MOSCOW (Reuters) – A British warship’s entry into what Moscow considers Russian territorial waters near Crimea last month is the kind of provocation that demands a tough response, the Kremlin said on Sunday.
President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia, which fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of the warship to chase it out of Black Sea waters off the coast of Crimea, could have sunk the warship.
Moscow challenged the right of HMS Defender to pass through waters near Crimea, something London said it had every right to do. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 but most of the world still recognises it as part of Ukraine.
Peskov, speaking on state television on Sunday, said the incident was “a well-planned provocation” and that Putin’s reaction had made it clear that any repetition would provoke a reponse.
“It is obvious that the reaction will of course be tough,” Peskov said.
He echoed Putin’s accusation that Washington and London had planned the episode together.
“I think that our intelligence agencies of course know who took that decision. But, of course, I think the essence of such operations is planned by all the same senior comrades – those over the ocean,” Peskov said.
Tensions are running high as Ukraine and NATO countries hold military drills in the Black Sea, monitored by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
Peskov said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a destabilising element that led to confrontation, but that Russia remained open to dialogue with the body.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alex Richardson and Barbara Lewis)