Putin says Black Sea incident was UK, US provocation

Moscow, Jun 30 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday an incident involving the British HMS Defender in the Black Sea was a clear provocation by the United Kingdom and United States.

Asked about the June 23 incident – when Russia said its navy had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a UK warship near Crimea – Putin said an American warplane had taken off from a NATO base in Greece at the same time.

“It was a provocation, that is obvious. It was a complex action carried out not only by the British but by the Americans too,” Putin said during his annual Question and Answer live broadcast call-in show.

The UK, which does not recognize Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, denied the reports and insisted the warship had not been fired on.

The US Defense Department did not comment on Russia’s claim that an aircraft in Greece was coordinating with the HMS Defender.

But Putin ruled out a global conflict when asked if the events could have triggered further tensions with the UK and the US.

“Even if we were to sink the ship, it is hard to imagine that the world would be on the brink of a new world war,” he said.

Regarding relations with Washington, Putin said Russia would firmly defend its interests and continue its development regardless of US sanctions and its political position.

“The world is undergoing a radical change, our US partners realize that and that is why the Geneva meeting took place,” he said.

The Kremlin chief also revealed that he received the Russian-produced Sputnik V vaccine in February while urging Russians to get vaccinated.

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