A RUSSIAN vessel and fighter plane fired warning shots at a British warship, Vladimir Putin's military have claimed.
Moscow claimed the Russian patrol ship and warplane were scrambled after HMS Defender crossed into its territorial waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.
Russian state media reports the Royal Navy Type-45 destroyer crossed the border near Cape Fiolent at 11.52am local time and was warned to stand down.
The destroyer is alleged to have kept its course and a Russian border patrol vessel opened fire twice – once at 12.06pm and again at 12.08pm.
And then its claimed a SU-24 fighter jump dropped four warning bombs in the direction of the vessel.
It claimed at 12.23pm the British ship left Russian waters.
Moscow has summoned British officials to answer for the confrontation which comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West.
HMS Defender sailed into the region after operating as part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group in the Med.
The £1billion warship was sailing with Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.
And it comes after Russia boasted it had "expelled" another British warship – HMS Dragon – from the region back in October.
Moscow claimed the Type 45 had ignored warnings not to enter Russian territorial waters – and claimed she was chased of by fighter planes and warships.
Russia's boasts were rubbished as untrue by the Ministry of Defence.
The latest dramatic incident comes as Ukraine is reportedly seeking to enter NATO in what would be a major blow to Putin.
Ukraine and Russia have been at odds ever since Moscow illegally annexed Crimea from Kiev in a move that received international condemnation.
It has since allegedly been supporting rebel groups fighting in eastern Ukraine and has been accused of plotting further land grabs.
Russia had said in recent days that it was closely monitoring HMS Defender.
An earlier image taken from Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender showed Russian frigate Admiral Essen "shadowing" USS Laboon.
Russia’s national defence control centre said: "Forces and systems of the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet have started monitoring the movements of the Royal Navy HMS Defender and the Dutch Navy's Evertsen frigate.”
The fleet’s former commander Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov said: ”Those ships will definitely not be welcome here.
“No-one is going to greet them as guests of honour, while their actions will definitely be monitored.
“They will be put under direct surveillance, technically, from the air and from outer space.”
The Russian fleet was enhancing “its combat preparedness, especially the readiness of air defence crews and particular standby forces” with the presence of the NATO ships, he said.
They were being subjected to “close monitoring”.
"Their visits to the Black Sea have become too frequent,” said Komoyedov.
“Their intensified presence has gone too far.
“They are complying with the Montreux Convention, but the activity of ships from non-Black Sea countries has never been so intensive before, even in the Soviet period.”
What is happening between Russia and Ukraine?
RUSSIA and the Ukraine have remained technically at war since 2014.
The conflict was triggered by the Ukrainian Revolution – when an uprising overthrew the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
Vladimir Putin's forces annexed the region of Crimea from Ukraine in a move which was widely condemned by the West.
The conflict then spiralled when pro-Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine then took up arms against the state.
Russia gave their backing the separatist forces which formed breakaway republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Putin's forces then launched a military incursion into these regions as they gave their support to the rebels.
Almost seven years have now passed and the War in Donbas remains at a stalemate.
Russia is sent as wanting to prevent Ukraine from cosying up to the West – and it has been accused of attempting to recapture territory lost at the fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine is now making overtures to join NATO, a move which would secure its own secure and also inflame tensions.
Some 100,000 troops were deployed by Russia to the border with Ukrainian earlier this year amid fears the conflict could turn to all out war between the two.
Tensions have since deescalated – but region remains a tinderbox where one wrong move could potentially spark a raging conflict that may draw in the West.
Ukraine will hope NATO membership means they can call on the full back of the US and UK to see off Putin's bully-boy tactics.
Putin massed tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine earlier this year, sparking fears of an invasion.
The Ukraine issue was discussed by Putin and US President Joe Biden at their historic summit last week, but little progress is believed to have been made.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky estimates that more than 90,000 Russian troops remain along their borders and said tensions could still escalate.
Kiev has been battling pro-Russia separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014, following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea.
The war has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
Speaking after his summit with Putin in Geneva, US President Biden described talks as "positive" – but divisions remain between the West and Russia.
"The bottom line is I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by," he said.
The US would maintain an “unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine" he added, and said they would continue to seek a diplomatic answer based on the Minsk agreement peace deal.
In his own news conference, Putin defended his country’s actions in Ukraine and insisted they are simply following the Minsk deal – as Russia as always denied any aggressive intent towards its western neighbour.
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