The Netherlands on Tuesday accused Russian fighter jets of “aggressive” behaviour in an encounter with a Dutch warship in the Black Sea.
The incident last Thursday involved the frigate HNMLS Evertsen, part of a carrier strike group with the British destroyer HMS Defender, which itself purportedly came under Russian warning fire a day earlier.
The Dutch defence ministry said Russian planes “repeatedly harassed the Evertsen” over a period of five hours when it was south-east of Russian-annexed Crimea, adding that they “flew dangerously low and close by, performing feint attacks”.
“The fighters were armed with bombs and so-called air-to-surface missiles… After hours of intimidation, disruptions to electronic equipment of the Evertsen also took place,” the ministry said in a statement.
Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said the Russian actions were “irresponsible” and that the Netherlands “will address Russia about this”.
“The Evertsen has every right to sail there. There is no justification whatsoever for this kind of aggressive action, which also unnecessarily increases the risk of accidents,” she said.
In a statement, the Russian defence ministry said that the Black Sea Fleet last Thursday scrambled Su-30 fighter jets and Su-24 bombers “to prevent violation of the border of the territorial waters of the Russian Federation” after the Evertsen “began moving in the direction of the Kerch Strait”.
It said that the planes “flew at a safe distance near the Netherlands navy ship,” which then “immediately changed its course.”
“The flights of the Russian aircraft were carried out in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace,” it added.