Russian Su-30SM fighter planes harassed the Royal Netherlands Navy air defense frigate HNLMS Evertsen in the Black Sea last Thursday, the Dutch defense ministry said releasing photos of the encounter.
The Dutch announcement comes after Russian media reports said the country’s military assets dropped bombs in the vicinity of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender, which was operating in the region with the Dutch ship. The UK defense minister quickly denounced the Russian claims, saying no bombs or warning shots had been fired at HMS Defender.
According to the Dutch defense ministry, HNMLS Evertsen was south-east of Crimea at the time of the incident on Thursday, June 24.
The planes repeatedly harassed the Everts between about 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm local time. They flew dangerously low and close, performing feint attacks.
The fighters were armed with bombs and so-called air-to-surface missiles, intended to fire at a target from the air. After hours of intimidation, disruptions to electronic equipment of the Evertsen also took place.
“The Russian actions violated the right to the free use of the sea. In addition, they go against mutual agreements, as laid down in the INCSEA treaty. The agreement must prevent unsafe situations at sea,” the defense ministry said.
“HNLMS Evertsen sailed on the open sea in international waters. There was no reason whatsoever for these aggressive actions. Despite this, the mock attacks continued for several hours. It was irresponsible and unsafe behavior at sea,” the ship’s commanding officer said.
HNLMS Evertsen is operating in the Black Sea as part of the UK carrier strike group, an international fleet of ships supporting the maiden deployment of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. The task group will visit 40 nations including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles.
The Dutch disclosure of Russian actions also comes after the kick-off of the major international naval exercise Sea Breeze in the Black Sea, despite Russia’s threats not to “tempt fate” with the maneuver.
Hosted by Ukraine, this year’s Sea Breeze is the largest ever with 32 countries from six continents set to take part. A total of 32 ships, 40 aircraft and thousands of personnel will be attending the event.