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The HMS Defender in the port of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on June 18. Photo: Konstantin Sazonchik\TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry claimed Wednesday that a Russian warship and fighter jet fired "warning" shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender destroyer for encroaching on waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The latest: The U.K.'s ministry of defense disputed that any warning shots were fired, saying in a statement, "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."

  • "No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path," the statement said.
  • "The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law."

Why it matters: It would be the first time since the Cold War that Russia has used live ammunition to deter a NATO vessel, according to AP.

  • Russia has frequently accused NATO of performing "destabilizing" operations in the Black Sea, despite the fact that NATO members Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria all have territorial claims to its waters.
  • Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and has conducted extensive military exercises in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy by choking off shipping lanes.

The state of play: Russia's defense ministry said the British destroyer left the area after warning shots by a Russian warship and bombing along its path by an Su-24 attack aircraft.

  • Sergei Tsekov, a senator for the legislature of Crimea, called the British warship's movements "a flagrant violation of international norms and standards," warning that it could "provoke a serious conflict," according to state media.
  • The Russian defense ministry said it summoned the British embassy's military attache after the incident.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper

Sep 10, 2021 - World

Queen Elizabeth and royal family support BLM movement, representative says

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: Jane Barlow/Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family support the Black Lives Matter movement, a senior representative said in a television interview that will be broadcast Friday, AP reports.

The big picture: The remarks come after Prince Harry and Meghan in March accused the family of racism, saying unnamed relatives expressed concern about how dark their baby's skin would be.

41 mins ago - Technology

New skill for Olympic athletes: cybersecurity

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

When Olympic athletes from all over the world land in Beijing for the 2022 Olympic Games, they'll be loaded up with burner phones and will likely leave their own devices behind.

Why it matters: Athletes are headed to the Beijing Olympics with mixed guidance from their home countries about whether their personal information will be safe online and their devices will be secure.

Omicron is finally burning out

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New COVID infections are declining in the U.S. — a sign that the Omicron wave has likely peaked.

Yes, but: Deaths are rising, and the U.S. still has a lot of COVID — a reminder that even this milder variant is still a very real threat to unvaccinated Americans.