In a burst of orange flame from the barrel of its 30mm cannon, this appears to be the dramatic moment a Russian patrol vessel opens fire near a British warship.

The footage, released by Russia's coastguard last night, seems to give a deck-eye view of the incident from one of the two patrol vessels which harassed HMS Defender in the Black Sea.

The bursts of fire from the Russians followed repeated warnings from the coastguard that he would fire if the Royal Navy destroyer entered what Russia considered its territorial waters off Crimea – which has been occupied by President Putin's forces since 2014.


In broken English, the crew of the UK warship were told: 'Please attention, keep away from me.'

The drama took place on Wednesday as Russian jets and the border patrol vessels homed in on HMS Defender after she passed into the disputed waters. 


In the video released by Putin's regime, three shots each with two shells are seen fired as warning shots, by which time HMS Defender is visible but at a long distance away

In the video released by Putin's regime, three shots each with two shells are seen fired as warning shots, by which time HMS Defender is visible but at a long distance away

In a tense encounter witnessed by the Mail, the cannon fired near the Royal Navy destroyer, forcing crew to pull on retardant suits and flak jackets.

A furious diplomatic row between Moscow and London was still raging last night, with the Russian foreign ministry even threatening to bomb any other British vessel venturing too close to Crimea.

It also emerged yesterday that Russian ships launched a 200-mile pursuit of the British warship in a dramatic continuation of hostilities. 

The two border patrol craft were joined by a frigate as all three chased HMS Defender to within 20 miles of Georgia. 

The Dmitriy Rogachev, a 94m-long Bykov-class corvette capable of carrying missiles, grenade launchers and torpedoes, closed to within 1.5 miles of the British. 

With its range of 6,000 miles, it is feared she will shadow the UK warship for days to come.

The continued harassment came as the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a chilling threat to drop bombs on any Royal Navy warships entering Crimean territory.

Footage shows lengthy negotiations in English between the coast guard vessel and the large destroyer. In Russian there is a command to shoot - but also to miss

Footage shows lengthy negotiations in English between the coast guard vessel and the large destroyer. In Russian there is a command to shoot - but also to miss

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said the 'inviolability' of its borders is an 'absolute imperative' and added that it will be protected 'by all means, diplomatic, political and military if needed'. 

Asked what Russia would do if there was a repeat, Mr Ryabkov said: 'We may appeal to reason and demand respect for international law. 

'If it doesn't help we may drop bombs and not just in the path but right on target.' 

'In the path' related to Russia's claim on Wednesday that it dropped bombs in front of HMS Defender.

The claim is almost certainly propaganda as no such ordnance was detected by the UK warship. 

But HMS Defender's captain hit back last night reminding the Kremlin of his 'inherent right to self-defence' and indicated he would respond to any genuine threat to the safety of the 240 people on board his ship.

As the diplomatic spat was stepped up yesterday, Deborah Bronnert, the UK's ambassador to Russia, was summoned to the Kremlin to explain the incident.

She was issued with a 'tough demarche' – diplomatic jargon for a telling off – as Russia accused London of 'barefaced lies'.

In the video taken from the patrol boat, a person can be heard saying in Russian: 'Fire warning shots! Fire warning shots! Over. Along the course of Defender. Along the course of Defender. No hitting it, no hitting Defender, did you get me? Over'

In the video taken from the patrol boat, a person can be heard saying in Russian: 'Fire warning shots! Fire warning shots! Over. Along the course of Defender. Along the course of Defender. No hitting it, no hitting Defender, did you get me? Over'

The warship is visible but at a long distance away. The clip's release follows Russia summoning the UK's ambassador in Moscow for a formal telling off today

The warship is visible but at a long distance away. The clip's release follows Russia summoning the UK's ambassador in Moscow for a formal telling off today


Asked whether the UK was telling 'barefaced lies' over the incident, Boris Johnson said: 'Well, they're the bear.

'That's not my information and my understanding is that the Carrier Strike Group proceeded in the way you would expect through international waters and in accordance with the law.'

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the incident: 'We believe it was a deliberate and premeditated provocation.'

The footage shows lengthy negotiations in English between the coastguard vessel and the British destroyer. 

Defender repeatedly insists it is on an established sea route in international waters.

Next, from the Russians, there is a command to shoot – but also to miss. 'Fire warning shots! Fire warning shots! Over. Along the course of Defender. 

The Royal Navy's HMS Defender destroyer, pictured above, was passing through the Black Sea around 12 miles from the Crimean city of Sevastopol as part of an exercise also involving a Dutch frigate having just left the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa

The Royal Navy's HMS Defender destroyer, pictured above, was passing through the Black Sea around 12 miles from the Crimean city of Sevastopol as part of an exercise also involving a Dutch frigate having just left the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa

UK Ambassador to Russia, Deborah Bronnert, pictured above. She was summoned to Moscow for a 'tough demarche' - a diplomatic term for a firm rebuke

UK Ambassador to Russia, Deborah Bronnert, pictured above. She was summoned to Moscow for a 'tough demarche' - a diplomatic term for a firm rebuke

'Along the course of Defender. No hitting it, no hitting Defender, did you get me? Over.' 

The Navy warship is clearly visible on the horizon. The video was released more than a day after Russia first made the claim that it had shot at the boat, and dropped four bombs from an Su-24 warplane as a warning.

Mr Johnson backed the Navy yesterday, saying it had been 'entirely right' to voyage through the disputed waters around Ukraine and that the service had been 'sticking up for our values'.

The Prime Minister, speaking to reporters at an army base in Aldershot, said: 'It was entirely right that we should vindicate the law and pursue freedom of navigation in the way that we did, take the shortest route between two points, and that's what we did.'

Mr Johnson sidestepped a question on whether he had personally authorised HMS Defender's voyage, saying that was a matter for the Ministry of Defence. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gave further details of Wednesday's incident in a written statement to MPs.

He said ten minutes after entering 'a traffic separation scheme' shipping lane, a Russian coastguard vessel warned that units would shortly commence a live fire gunnery exercise. 

While accurate, it failed to mention the more aggressive language of 'I'll be fire' issued by the same coastguard in broken English.

Boris Johnson, pictured boarding a helicopter in London today to travel to an Army base in Aldershot, insisted Britain had every right to sail close to Crimea

Boris Johnson, pictured boarding a helicopter in London today to travel to an Army base in Aldershot, insisted Britain had every right to sail close to Crimea

Mr Johnson is seen behind the wheel of an armoured vehicle complete with a machine gun belonging to Britain's the new Ranger Regiment during a visit to mark Armed Forces Week at the Aldershot Garrison in Aldershot

Mr Johnson is seen behind the wheel of an armoured vehicle complete with a machine gun belonging to Britain's the new Ranger Regiment during a visit to mark Armed Forces Week at the Aldershot Garrison in Aldershot

As far as many crew aboard HMS Defender are concerned, Russia issued a threat to engage the UK warship, then opened fire when it failed to change course.

Mr Wallace said HMS Defender was overflown by Russian combat aircraft flying as low as 500 feet and that some of their manoeuvers were 'neither safe nor professional'. 

The Defence Secretary added: 'The Royal Navy will always uphold international law and will not accept unlawful interference with innocent passage.'

HMS Defender is part of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) currently heading to the Indo-Pacific region. It broke away on Tuesday to conduct a Freedom of Navigation patrol through waters Russia regards as its own.

Last night, the Russian Embassy in London posted a message on Twitter jokingly referring to HMS Defender as 'HMS Provocative'. 

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