- The Dutch Defense Ministry said Russian fighters harassed a frigate in the Black Sea last Thursday.
- The incident lasted for hours and allegedly involved simulated warship attacks and jamming.
- The incident involving the Dutch frigate followed another involving a British destroyer.
Russian fighters harassed the Dutch frigate HNLMS Eversten in the Black Sea for hours last week, the Dutch Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
During the incident, which lasted around five hours last Thursday, Russian fighters armed with air-to-surface missiles flew low and brought the warship close, simulating attacks on the Royal Netherlands Navy ship.
—Ministry of Defense (@ Defense) June 29, 2021
The Dutch warship also suffered interference that disrupted some of its on-board electronic systems, the Defense Ministry said.
The captain of the ship said in a statement that the Eversten was sailing in international waters, arguing that there was no reason for the Russian actions observed, which he described as “irresponsible and dangerous”.
“Evertsen has every right to sail there,” Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said, according to a Reuters translation. She said “there is no justification for this kind of aggressive act, which unnecessarily increases the risk 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 patrolled the Black Sea with the British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender.
Last Wednesday, Russian fighters flew over the British destroyer in the Black Sea, sometimes performing maneuvers which British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace said were “neither safe nor professional”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said warning shots were fired and bombs dropped in the path of the British destroyer, which Russia said entered its territorial waters, allegations stemming from the annexation of Crimea by Russia and little recognized.
Although the UK Defense Ministry disputes the Russian version of events, claiming that no gunshots were fired and no bombs dropped, Russia has stuck to its history and has even threatened to drop bombs “just on target ”in the event of another intrusion.
The recent Black Sea drama came just days before the start of a massive military exercise led by the United States and Ukraine. Sea Breeze 21 is the largest iteration of the annual exercise since its launch 27 years ago and involves 32 countries, 5,000 troops, 32 ships and 40 aircraft.
The exercise which began on Monday despite Russian opposition to the exercises.
“We are showing the world that the Black Sea is an international sea,” US Army officer Captain Kyle Gantt and Joint Task Force 65 deputy commander said on Tuesday, according to Stars and Stripes.
“It is open and available for free transport of commerce, navigation, for all nations,” he said, adding that “it does not belong to any nation”.