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Russia ‘strongly’ warns Britain over alleged role in drone attack on fleet in Crimea

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has handed a demarche to Britain’s ambassador to Moscow, Deborah Bronnet, over what Moscow said was the involvement of U.K. specialists in a Ukrainian drone strike on its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea last week.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on November 3 that it expressed its “resolute protest over the active participation of British specialists in preparation and providing logistics to units of Ukraine’s special operation forces, including those with an aim to conduct sabotage operations in the sea.”

Russia has not provided any evidence to back up its claims over the October 29 attack. Britain denies carrying out the attack, but has not hidden the fact that it has been helping to train Ukrainian armed forces and arming them.

“In case of continuation of such acts of aggression that may lead to direct involvement into the conflict, the British side will be fully responsible for the acts’ harmful consequences and escalation of tension between our states,” the Russian statement said, adding that the British should stop providing training and other types of military assistance to Ukraine.

According to Russian officials, a unit of Britain’s Royal Navy directed the drone attack from the southern Ukrainian port of Ochakiv. London has dismissed the accusations as “false claims of an epic scale.”

Following the drone attack, Russia announced it was pulling out of the UN-brokered Black Sea Grains Initiative agreed in July but resumed its participation on November 2.

Since Russia launched its unprovoked attack on Ukraine in late February, the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of Western countries imposing sanctions on Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the aggression.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in Berlin ahead of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers on November 3 that “Putin’s actions are plunging the world’s poorest further into despair, putting global food security on the brink and pushing up energy prices.”

“While we are steadfast in our support for Ukraine, we must not forget that the impacts of Russia’s aggression, interference, and hostility extend across the world,” Cleverly said, “These actions only serve to demonstrate Putin’s true intentions and further unite the international community against his callous plans.”