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Dutch Say Russian Jets Buzzed Warship in Black Sea

Dutch Defence Ministry

The Netherlands on Tuesday accused Russian fighter jets of "unsafe" behavior 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 defense ministry said Russian planes "repeatedly harassed the Everts" over a period of five hours when it was southeast 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.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow.

The standoff came a day after Russia said a border patrol ship fired warning shots at Britain's HMS Defender and a fighter jet dropped four bombs along its path.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the route taken by the Royal Navy destroyer.

Ukraine and the United States meanwhile launched joint naval exercises in the Black Sea on Monday in a show of Western cooperation with Kiev.

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