About that clash between a British destroyer and Russian warplanes and warships in the Black Sea last week there are conflicting versions.
The Kremlin version is the more dramatic.
HMS Defender, says Moscow, entered the Black Sea, made port in Odessa, Ukraine, and then sailed for Batumi on the coast of Georgia.
However, the British warship traversed Russia’s territorial waters at the tip of the Crimean peninsula, near Sevastopol, Russia’s principal naval base on the Black Sea.
The destroyer, say the Russians, had to be diverted by shellfire from a patrol boat and bombs dropped in its path by Sukhoi fighters.
London’s version: Defender sailed through waters off Crimea that belong to Ukraine. Russian gunfire was far off and unthreatening. No dropped bombs impeded the destroyer’s passage.
Yet, according to The New York Times, BBC correspondent Jonathan Beale, who was on board Defender, has “published video footage showing as many as 20 Russian warplanes buzzing the ship and a Russian Coast Guard vessel drawing close alongside.”
In brief, this naval encounter was serious business.
Defender’s captain, Cmdr. Vince Owen, made it clear his ship sailed close by Crimea deliberately “to assert the position that Crimea and the waters around it legally belong to Ukraine.”