Russia dismisses Canada’s complaint of ‘unnecessary provocation’ in Black Sea

HMCS Toronto is pictured in Halifax on Jan.14, 2013.
HMCS Toronto is pictured in Halifax on Jan.14, 2013. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Russia on Tuesday dismissed claims from Canada’s Defence Minister Rob Nicholson that three Russian planes buzzed a Canadian frigate in the Black Sea.

The frigate HMCS Toronto was taking part in NATO training exercises off the Ukrainian coast when the planes circled the frigate.

Although Nicholson said the planes did not pose a threat, he called the incident “unnecessarily provocative,” and said it risked escalating tensions in the region even further at a time when a fragile ceasefire was just taking hold.

Russian ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday that Russian planes were flying in the area but were “strictly in line with international rules.”

Reports said three aircraft, two fighters and a surveillance plane, were involved.

The U.S. Navy is leading the three-day exercise in conjunction with Ukraine, the 13th time the exercise has been held since the former East Bloc country began making overtures to join NATO.

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The drill was planned long before relations with Russia soured over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine.

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