NATO-Russia row: UK destroyer docks in Georgia, US warship enters Black Sea
The British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender, which angered Russia by sailing near its territorial waters in the Black Sea, has docked in Georgia while a US destroyer has entered the waters, as the Kremlin warns against “endless destabilization” along the Russian borders.
The British destroyer docked at the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi on Saturday, after sailing through the Mediterranean waters in Istanbul, Turkey and Odessa in Ukraine.
According to Press TV, HMS Defender will take its carrier group through the Suez Canal and on to East Asia.
Russia said a Russian border patrol ship fired several warning shots and a military jet had dropped bombs in the path of the destroyer on Wednesday after it entered Russia’s territorial waters. Britain says no bombs were dropped.
Russian Ambassador to London Andrei Kelin said that the destroyer “could have led to a military clash,” as it was passing by Crimea.
“The nightmare is that they are trying to reinforce the political position with a military provocation, which, indeed, can lead us to a serious military incident, which the chief of the British General Staff admitted just yesterday evening,” Kelin said.
Defender's commander, Vince Owen, however, said Britain and its allies and partners such as Georgia — an aspirant of NATO membership —were committed to ensuring “Black Sea regional security, stability and prosperity and Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
Owen said the Royal Navy was committed to “providing reassurances and security in the region, and incredible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security.”
Britain said the destroyer had sailed through waters belonging to Ukraine, but Russia said the UK’s position on the issue was “offensive” and “rough.” HMS Defender passed south of the Crimean Peninsula as it was sailing from Odessa in southern Ukraine to Georgia.
"They took the position that the Destroyer was sailing in the territorial waters of Ukraine,” Kelin said.
The ambassador said that he has scheduled meetings with British authorities “to clarify this matter with them and say quite clearly that either we have a political dialogue or a provocation.”