UK denies claims Russia fired warning shots, dropped bombs near British ship

The incident on Wednesday marked the first time since the Cold War Moscow used live ammunition to deter a NATO warship, reflecting soaring Russia-West tensions.

UK denies claims Russia fired warning shots, dropped bombs near British ship

The UK has denied Moscow's claims a Russian warship fired warning shots and a plane dropped bombs to force a British destroy from waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

"No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender," the UK Ministry of Defence Office said in a tweet on Wednesday night.

"The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law."


The Russian Defence Ministry had earlier announced the alleged military action, while claiming the waters belonged to Russia.

The Russian ministry said its warship fired warning shots after the British missile destroyer HMS Defender had ignored a notice against intrusion in Russia's territorial waters.

It said that a Russian Su-24 bomber also dropped bombs ahead of the British ship to persuade it to change course.

The UK instead said it believed 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 UK Ministry of Defence said.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described the British ship's route as a "routine transit" from Odessa towards Georgia across the Black Sea.

"As is normal for this route, she entered an internationally recognised traffic separation corridor," he said, in a statement shared by the ministry on Twitter.

"She exited that corridor safely at 0945 BST (6.45pm AEST).

"As is routine, Russian vessels shadowed her passage and she was made aware of training exercises in her wider vicinity."


Differing accounts of what happened

It's unclear why the countries have issued such differing descriptions of the incident.

The firing of warning shots and dropping of bombs would have marked the first time since the Cold War Moscow had used live ammunition to deter a NATO warship, reflecting growing risks of military incidents amid soaring Russia-West tensions.

The Russian Defence Ministry said it had summoned the UK military attache in Moscow to protest the British destroyer's manoeuvre.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, a move that was not recognised by most countries in the world.

Russia has frequently chafed at NATO warships' visits near Crimea, casting them as destabilising.

NATO members Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria all are on the Black Sea but warships from the US, UK and other NATO allies also have made increasingly frequent visits in a show of support to Ukraine.

HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer, is part of the UK Carrier Strike Group currently heading to the Indo-Pacific region.

It was announced earlier this month that it would be temporarily breaking away from the group to carry out its "own set of missions" in the Black Sea.

Russia reportedly used SU-24 bombers to conduct the airstrikes.

Russian criticism of NATO operations

Speaking on Wednesday just before the incident, General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, sharply criticised the deployments of NATO warships near Russian waters.

"The moves by warships of the US and its allies have been clearly provocative," General Gerasimov said at an international security conference in Moscow organised by the Russian Defence Ministry.

"It creates preconditions for incidents and doesn't help ease tensions in the military sphere."

He charged that the British destroyer Dragon intruded into the Russian waters near Crimea in October, and the US destroyer John McCain violated the Russian border in the Sea of Japan in November.

In April, Russia imposed restrictions on foreign navy ships' movements near Crimea until November in a move that drew strong complaints from Ukraine and the West.

Russia has rejected that criticism and noted that the restrictions wouldn't interfere with commercial shipping.

Earlier this year, Russia also beefed up its troops near the border with Ukraine and warned Ukrainian authorities against using force to reclaim control of the country's east, where a conflict with Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 14,000 people in seven years.

Moscow withdrew some of its forces after sweeping manoeuvres but Ukrainian officials said the bulk of them remained.

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Quarantined family granted exemption to see dying father

Mark Kilian and Anneli Gericke have been granted an exemption to visit Mr Kilian's dying father in Queensland.

Quarantined family granted exemption to see dying father

The Queensland Government has granted a health exemption to a couple stranded in Sydney hotel quarantine to visit a dying family member after denying them multiple times.

Mark Kilian and Anneli Gericke will be allowed to fly into Queensland at 12pm tomorrow so Mr Kilian can visit his dying father Frans.

It comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was willing to let a couple into the state if NSW Health could tell them how the pair will safely travel across the border.

"We have issued an exemption to Mark Kilian and his partner, subject to NSW finalising arrangement of safe transfer of the couple to Queensland," a Queensland Health statement tonight read.

"All quarantine exemption requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, in line with current national guidelines.

"It has been a nationally agreed position that all international arrivals must complete 14 days of quarantine in their port of arrival."

One last-minute rejection from Queensland Health — following successful appeals to Border Force and NSW Health for exemptions — came through as the fully vaccinated husband and wife sat on the tarmac waiting to depart Los Angeles International Airport.

Earlier today, Ms Palaszczuk told reporters it was "a matter for the NSW Government".

"If they want to break the 14-day mandatory quarantine for this couple, and if they can provide (Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young) with how they will safely be transferred from Sydney to the Gold Coast, we, of course, will do everything we can to facilitate the reunion with his father at the earliest convenience," Ms Palaszczuk said.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a letter shared online overnight, chided Queensland authorities for their handling of the situation, saying Mr Kilian had done "everything you possibly can" to see his dying father.

Frans Kilian, 80, was moved to hospital last week as his pancreatic cancer worsened.

"We didn't think he was going to make it through yesterday, I think he'd been holding on for us to get there," Mr Kilian told 9News last week.

"When he heard we weren't coming he just took a turn."

Mr Morrison said having farewelled his own father last year, he knew how important times like these were to families, which was why the Department of Home Affairs granted an exemption for the couple to travel to Australia.

"I know what an important time this is for you and that you can never get these days back," he said in a letter to Mr Kilian dated June 22. 

"I am disappointed the Queensland Government has not found a workable and compassionate solution.

"However, the Australian Government does not have authority to step in and provide exemptions from hotel quarantine for travel into Queensland. Under our federation, these decisions are made by the Queensland Government."


On Tuesday, Ms Palaszczuk admitted the situation was "absolutely tragic" but said her hands were tied by national guidelines on hotel quarantine.

However, she did allow a sliver of hope to shine through for the stranded couple.

"If the Federal Government wants to talk to both states, I'm happy to facilitate that," she said.

Mr Kilian's father Frans weighs 44 kilograms.

"But this [hotel quarantine] applies to everybody. This applies to everyone. Every single person."

Mr Kilian feared if he and his wife were made to complete their two weeks in hotel quarantine, he wouldn't get to say goodbye to his father.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian previously asked her counterparts to show compassion on border exemptions, calling for decisions about reuniting families to be based on "human dignity".

"My heart breaks when I hear about stories like this," she said, while refusing to intervene in individual cases.

"New South Wales has always tried to have a compassionate approach especially when there are circumstances such as this one.

"I just ask all of my colleagues to think carefully before preventing families from being united at a very difficult time."

You can find out more details about how to book your vaccine

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