A reporter on board the HMS Defender has claimed the crew of the Royal Navy destroyer was on “high alert” and gunfire was heard after Russia claimed its forces fired warning shots at the warship after it entered the country’s territorial waters in the Black Sea.
The Russian Defence Ministry said shots were fired and bombs dropped in the path of the vessel in waters off Crimea, but the Ministry of Defence has denied the claims.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the MoD said: "No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender. The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.
"We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity.
“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”
The Russian Embassy in London branded the warship “HMS Provocateur” in a post on Twitter, writing: “HMS Defender turns HMS Provocateur and violates Russian border. Not exactly a ‘routine’ transit, is it?”