- The Dutch defense ministry says Russian fighters harassed a frigate in the Black Sea last Thursday.
- The incident lasted hours and allegedly involved mock attacks on the warship and jamming.
- The incident involving the Dutch frigate followed another involving a British destroyer.
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Russian fighters harassed the Dutch frigate HNLMS Eversten in the Black Sea for hours last week, the Dutch defense ministry said Tuesday.
During the incident, which lasted roughly five hours last Thursday, Russian fighters armed with air-to-surface missiles flew low and close the warship, conducting mock attacks on the Royal Netherlands Navy vessel.
-Ministerie van Defensie (@Defensie) June 29, 2021
The Dutch warship also experienced jamming that disrupted some of its onboard electronic systems, the defense ministry said.
The ship’s commanding officer said in a statement that the Eversten was sailing in international waters, arguing that there was no reason for the observed Russian actions, which he called “irresponsible and unsafe.”
The “Evertsen has every right to sail there,” Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said, according to a translation from Reuters. She said “there is no justification for this kind of aggressive act, which needlessly increases the chance of accidents.”
The Dutch frigate Eversten is attached to a multinational carrier strike group led by the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and has been conducting patrols in the Black Sea with the British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender.
Last Wednesday, Russian fighters overflew the British destroyer in the Black Sea, at times executing maneuvers that British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace stated were “neither safe nor professional.”
The Russian defense ministry claimed that warning shots were fired and bombs dropped in the path of the British destroyer, which Russia says had entered its territorial waters, claims stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea and not widely recognized.
Although the UK defense ministry disputes Russia’s version of events, arguing that no shots were fired nor bombs dropped, Russia has stuck to its story and even threatened to drop bombs “right on target” in the event of another intrusion.
The recent drama in the Black Sea came just days before the start of a massive military exercise led by the US and Ukraine. Sea Breeze 21 is the largest iteration of the annual exercise since it first started 27 years ago and involves 32 countries, 5,000 military personnel, 32 ships, and 40 aircraft.
The exercise which kicked off Monday despite Russian opposition to the drills.
“We are demonstrating to the world that the Black Sea is an international sea,” Capt. Kyle Gantt, a US military officer and the deputy commander of Task Force 65, said Tuesday, according to Stars and Stripes.
“It is open and available for the free transport of commerce, shipping, for all nations,” he said, adding that “it is not owned by any one nation.”