Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft, anti-sub drill'

Northern Fleet vessels last reported to have entered the Channel in November.

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The flagship of Russia's Nothern Fleet, heavy nuclear missile cruiser 'Pyotr Veliky'
AFP/Getty Images

Russian warships have entered the English Channel and are planning to conduct military drills near the coast of Britain, it has been reported.
The Russian Defence Ministry’s officials were quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the ships belonged to Russia’s Northern Fleet, which sparked controversy with a similar move last November.
According to the official, the ships will pass through the Channel to hold anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence drills in the northern Atlantic.
The vessels are being monitored by the Ministry of Defence, which said they include the Udaloy class destroyer Severomorsk, a tanker and a support ship.
A spokesperson for the MoD said the Russian ships were being supervised during their passage by the HMS Argyll, and that it had witnessed no military drills being carried out.
It is not unusual for Russian ships to pass the British coast but the latest incident comes amid heightened international tensions.
Last time a squadron from the Russian navy passed through the Channel on 28 November last year it was tailed by a Royal Navy patrol boat.
Nato was then forced to deny any security risk after Northern Fleet commanders were quoted by the RIA news agency boasting about “undertaking a series of exercises” while anchored off the UK.
And James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, said that while the Channel is a legitimate shipping lane “these things aren't done by accident”.
“Russia is trying to show it has got full spectrum capability warfare,” he said.
“It is not a prelude to war but it is a reminder that Russia likes to use - that it is a power to be reckoned with, not a fading power, which might be closer to the reality.”

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