President Vladimir Putin stated on Wednesday (June 30) that Russia could have sunk a British warship that was accused of illegally entering its territorial waters without starting World War III and accused Washington of Played a role in the “provocation”.
After Russia challenged HMS Defender’s right to transit waters near Russia’s annexed Crimea, tensions between Moscow and London soared last week, and Britain said it has every right to do so.
Britain claimed that their ship sailed in international waters, while Russia claimed that it was within Russian territorial waters on the Crimean Peninsula. The West does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Putin’s comments added a threat to Russia’s earlier warning that if the British navy takes further provocative actions near the heavily guarded Crimea, Moscow will bomb British naval ships in the Black Sea.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and Britain and most countries in the world recognized the Black Sea peninsula as part of Ukraine, not Russia.
In London’s statement that it did not recognize the incident that occurred last week, Russia said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs on British warships en route from Ukraine to Georgia.
Putin spoke at an annual question-and-answer meeting with voters, expressing his anger at what he called a “provocation,” which aims to reveal how the Russian army in Crimea responded to such an invasion.
When asked if the world was standing on the cliff of World War III during the standoff, Putin said: “Of course not.”
“Even if we sink this ship, it is difficult to imagine that the world will be on the brink of World War III, because those who (provoke) know that they cannot be the victors of such a war,” he added . .
Putin accused the United States and Britain of co-planning the incident, saying that earlier the same day, an American spy plane took off from Greece to observe how Russia would respond to British warships.
“Obviously, the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) first for military objectives, trying to use spy planes to see how our troops will stop this provocation, see what is activated, where, and how things are. Where it works and where everything is.”
Putin said that Russia has realized the purpose of the exercise and responded in a way that only provides the other party with information that Moscow deems necessary.
Putin said that soon after he met with US President Biden in Geneva, he saw the political factors of the incident.
“The Geneva Conference has just been held. Why is this provocation necessary and what is its purpose? Emphasize that these people (Americans and British) do not respect the choice of Crimeans to join the Russian Federation,” he said.
The Russian leader accused London and Washington of a lack of gratitude, saying that he ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from near the Ukrainian border earlier this year because their build-up caused concerns in the West.
“We did it,” Putin said. “But instead of reacting positively to it and saying’well, we understand your reaction to our complaints’-instead of that, what did they do? They crossed our borders.”