Britain’s Royal Navy tracked a Russian warship in the North Sea near British waters on Christmas Day, the Royal Navy announced on Tuesday. He cited a recent “increase in the number of Russian units transiting British waters”.
The navy did not say why more Russian ships are traveling near or in British waters. The activity comes amid souring relations between Britain and Russia over Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian Crimea, Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and allegations of Russian interference in Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – Brexit.
The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov was followed by HMS St. Albans, a Royal Navy frigate with 190 sailors on board. The Russian vessel was also being tracked by a navy helicopter as it moved through what British officials called “areas of national interest”.
UK Defense Secretary Gavin William said his country “would not hesitate to defend our waters or tolerate any form of aggression”.
William added: “Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people and our national interests.”
British officials had previously warned that Russian ships transiting British waters risked cutting undersea internet cables. These cables lie on the seabed and provide a vital communications connection that connects the country to mainland Europe.