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Putin says U.S. was involved in Britain-Russia standoff in Black Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets U.S. President Joe Biden during a summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16. Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets U.S. President Joe Biden during a summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16. Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/EPA-EFE

June 30 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday blamed Britain and the United States for a standoff in the Black Sea last week between Moscow forces and a British Destroyer, calling it an intentional provocation.

The confrontation occurred on June 23 when Russia says Britain's HMS Defender veered into territorial waters near Crimea, which Moscow controversially annexed in 2014. In response, Russian fighter jets fired warning shots and cautionary explosives were deployed near the warship.

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British officials denied any warning shots had been fired and said the ship was in Ukrainian and international waters.

During a question and answer session with Russian media Wednesday, Putin also accused the United States of being involved in the dispute.

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"This is, of course, a provocation, which is absolutely clear," Putin said, according to state-run news agency TASS.

"First of all, it was comprehensive and was staged not only by the British but also by the Americans because the British warship entered into our territorial waters in the afternoon while early in the morning ... a U.S. strategic reconnaissance plane took off from a NATO airfield in Greece."

Putin said he later received a report about the U.S. military reconnaissance plane.

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"It was obvious that the destroyer intruded in pursuit of military aims, trying to find out with the help of a reconnaissance plane what our armed forces' countermeasures to this sort of provocations might be, to see what facilities are activated, where they are located and how they work," he added.

"We did see that and knew that, so we disclose only the information that we found appropriate."

British environmental secretary George Eustice said last week that Russia's warning would not prevent London from sending ships through the same waters in the future.

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Putin's remarks came about two weeks after he met with U.S. President Joe Biden at a summit in Switzerland. The meeting was widely seen as a victory for the Russian leader.

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