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Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that his navy was prepared to carry out an “inevitable strike” on enemy targets if it was in the country’s “national interest”.

Putin was speaking in St. Petersburg during a parade of warships, just weeks after the UK angered Russia by sending a British warship near the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

“The Russian Navy today has everything it needs to guarantee the protection of our country and our national interests,” he said.

“We are able to detect any enemy underwater, over water or airborne and, if necessary, lead an unpredictable strike against them.”

His remarks follow an incident in the Black Sea in June, when Russia said it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to drive it out of Crimean waters.

The parade is held annually to mark Russian Navy Day

The British government has dismissed Russia’s account of the incident.

The country’s defense ministry said all the shots fired were a pre-announced Russian “artillery exercise” and no bombs were dropped.

Russian marching band participates in St. Petersburg naval parade

Putin’s comments shortly after a diplomatic row with Britain over one of its warships entering Crimean waters.

What is the background to the dispute over Crimea?

Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014, but Britain and most countries around the world recognize the Black Sea Peninsula as part of Ukraine, not Russia.

Putin said last month that Russia could have sunk the British warship HMS Defender, which it accused of entering its territorial waters illegally, without starting World War III and said the United States had played a role in “provocation”.

The Russian leader added that Russia had secured its place among the world’s major naval powers, notably by developing “the latest hypersonic precision weapons still unmatched in the world.”

Several other major powers are planning to develop similar technology.

These include the United States, China and France, who say they will soon catch up.

Russia already has the second largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world and a huge cache of ballistic missiles.

On Monday, the Kremlin announced that it had successfully carried out another test launch of a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile.

The missile was reportedly launched on Monday from an Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea in northern Russia and hit a land target near the Barents Sea coast.

Russia says the Zircon missile will be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and will have a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

jf / mm (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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