British naval destroyer that angered Russia docks in Georgia

Row between Moscow and London erupted after the HMS Defender passed near Crimea

This handout photo taken on June 26, 2021 and released by British Embassy in Georgia, shows the British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender arrives in the Black Sea port of Batumi on June 26, 2021.  British navy destroyer, HMS Defender, makes a port call in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi for joint exercises with the NATO-aspirant country’s coast guard, according to the Royal Navy, days after Russia claimed it had fired warning shots at the warship in the coastal waters of Crimea. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /British Embassy in Georgia " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / British embassy in Georgia / Irakli GEDENIDZE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /British Embassy in Georgia " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

The British destroyer HMS Defender, which angered Russia by sailing through waters off Crimea, docked at the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi on Saturday.

Russia said it had fired warning shots at the destroyer, and later threatened to bomb British naval vessels in the Black Sea if there were further “provocative” actions in the area.

The dispute between Moscow and London erupted on Wednesday after the HMS Defender passed near Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The peninsula is still recognised internationally as being part of Ukraine.

Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the UK ambassador on Thursday to "strongly protest" against what it said was a British destroyer's breach of its territory.

Russia said it fired warning shots at the destroyer to ward it off, but Britain denied the claim.

The vessel’s commander, Vince Owen, said the British Navy was committed to “providing reassurances and security in the region, and incredible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security”.

The ship has visited Istanbul in Turkey and Odessa in Ukraine as part of a tour of duty that will take its carrier group through the Suez Canal and on to East Asia.

Commander Owen said Britain and its allies and partners such as Georgia were committed to ensuring “Black Sea regional security, stability and prosperity and Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”.

Russia had said it had dropped bombs in the path of HMS Defender on Wednesday in response to what it considered to be an incursion into its waters.

Britain said the Defender had sailed through waters belonging to Ukraine, and that any shots fired had been part of a pre-announced Russian gunnery exercise. It said no bombs had been dropped.

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