UK’s Royal Navy & NATO ‘escort 9 Russian warships’ in sea near Britain, London says

Britain’s Royal Navy and NATO allies have escorted “nine Russian Navy warships” in the waters close to the United Kingdom, the British Navy has said.

“The Royal Navy demonstrated its flexibility in being able to shadow the Russian Navy units,” Commander Will Paston, commanding officer of the frigate HMS ‘Westminster,’ said on Wednesday.

The Russian Navy operated “in a safe and professional manner,” the statement admitted, citing heightened levels of activity in the area. HMS ‘Westminster’ combined with NATO-allied units across the North Sea and Baltic Sea “to escort them throughout,” it said.

The UK military had already reported “the unusually high level of Russian activity” earlier this year, saying on March 26 that nine Royal Navy ships were involved in a major operation “shadowing seven Russian vessels who had lingered in the Channel for several days.”

Meanwhile, the Russian National Defense Management Center said on May 4 that the Northern Fleet’s forces had escorted US and UK ships that had entered the Barents Sea.
On June 1, Russia’s General Staff said it considered NATO military exercises in the Barents Sea in early May as a provocation. 

They practiced the task of “striking targets in Russian territory and intercepting Russian ballistic missiles,” Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of Russia’s General Staff Colonel General Sergey Rudskoi said. 

The NATO task force was located and the ships were escorted. “This allowed us to prevent incidents and demonstrated our determination to defend our interests in the Arctic,” TASS quoted Rudskoi as saying at that time.

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On Tuesday, the UK Ministry of Defense made it clear that it could demonstrate heightened levels of activity toward the south, as it will lead a multinational program to help train the Ukrainian Navy.

“The Maritime Training Initiative will enable even closer collaboration with the NATO alliance and armed forces around the world, and allows us to build on Ukraine’s new NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner status,” Defense Minister Ben Wallace said during a visit to Kiev.

The training will be undertaken by naval personnel from Sweden, Canada and Denmark in areas such as navigation, operational planning, military diving, sea surveillance, fire-fighting and damage control. British Royal Navy ships will also visit the region later this year, Reuters said.

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