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MOSCOW: A senior Russian military official on Monday said that Russia was ready to open fire on foreign ships and submarines that illegally enter its territorial waters, Russian news agency reported.
“Any such decision would, however, be taken only at the highest level”, Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov, deputy head of the main operational department of the General Staff, was quoted as saying.
The comment came two days after Moscow said a Russian naval vessel had chased away a US submarine in Russian waters in the Pacific. The United States denied it had carried out military operations in Russian territorial waters.
Tensions between the two countries are running high, with Washington warning that Russia could attack Ukraine at any time. Moscow denies any such intention, despite massing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, and has accused Western governments of hysteria.
Interfax quoted Gadzhimagomedov as saying Russia was able to adequately counter the U.S. fleet in the Black and Baltic Seas but did not have enough ships and plans to do so in the far east at the moment.
All of Russia’s military fleets have been carrying out exercises in recent weeks across vast areas including parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, has lashed out at Russian aggression on the Ukraine border, as Australian diplomatic staff evacuate from the embassy in Kyiv.
As tensions in the region heighten, Morrison said it was time for Australia to stand up to countries that bully Ukraine. “We denounce Russia’s bullying, coercion, intimidation and threats of violence against Ukraine, and we will always take steps to do that,” he told parliament.
“We look on these issues and these events with great concern, we support Ukraine’s sovereignty, we support their right to territorial borders, and that they not be imperiled,” he added. A senate estimates hearing was told 198 Australian citizens in the Ukraine have registered for consular assistance.