Vladimir Putin says Russia could have sunk UK warship without starting World War Three
The Russian navy can detect any enemy and launch an “unpreventable strike” if needed, President Vladimir Putin said on, Sunday July 25, weeks after a UK warship angered Moscow by passing the Crimea peninsula.
“We are capable of detecting any underwater, above-water, airborne enemy and, if required, carry out an unpreventable strike against it,” Putin said speaking at a navy day parade in St Petersburg.
Putin’s words follow an incident in the Black Sea in June when Russia said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of Crimea waters.
Britain rejected Russia’s account of the incident, saying it believed any shots fired were a pre-announced Russian “gunnery exercise”, and that no bombs had been dropped.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 but Britain and most of the world recognise the Black Sea peninsula as part of Ukraine, not Russia.
Putin said last month Russia could have sunk the British warship HMS Defender, that it accused of illegally entering its territorial waters, without starting World War Three and said the United States played a role in the “provocation” designed to reveal how Russian forces in Crimea reacted to such intrusions.
When asked if the world had stood on the precipice of World War Three during the standoff, Putin said: “Of course not.”
Even if we had sunk the ship it is hard to imagine that the world would have been on the verge of World War Three because those doing it (the provocation) know that they could not emerge as victors from such a war,” he added.
Putin accused the United States and Britain of planning the episode together, saying a U.S. spy plane had taken off from Greece earlier on the same day to watch how Russia would respond to the British warship.
“It was obvious that the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things work and where everything is located.”
Putin said he saw a political element to the incident, which took place shortly after he had met U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva.
“The meeting in Geneva had just happened, so why was this provocation needed, what was its goal? To underscore that those people (the Americans and British) do not respect Crimeans’ choice to join the Russian Federation,” he said.
The Russian leader accused London and Washington of a lack of gratitude, saying he had earlier this year given the order for Russian forces to pull back from near Ukraine’s borders after their build-up had generated concern in the West.