LONDON — Britain’s Royal Navy has escorted one of Russia’s warships across the North Sea near British waters, officials said on Tuesday, amid growing tensions between the two countries.
HMS St Albans with 190 sailors on board was used to escort the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov on Monday through what British officials called “national interest areas” on Christmas Day.
Additionally, a Royal Navy helicopter was used to track other Russian ships in the area.
The Navy said there had recently been an increase in the number of Russian ships traveling near British waters. Officials said that on Christmas Eve, a navy ship was used to escort a Russian intelligence-gathering ship across the North Sea and the English Channel.
Defense Secretary Gavin William said Britain would not tolerate aggression.
“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people and our national interests,” he said on Tuesday.
There has also been an increase in recent years in the number of Russian fighter jets testing NATO and British air defences, leading to scrambled jets to ward off Russian fighters.
The incidents at sea follow a difficult visit to Moscow by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson just before Christmas. Johnson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disagreed on a number of political issues, reflecting growing tensions between Britain and Russia.
Johnson accused Russia of interfering in Britain’s internal affairs, but said there were still areas where the two countries could work together.
British officials warned this month that Russian ships could cut undersea internet cables in a bid to disrupt communications and trade.