Russian warships escorted by Royal Navy through the English Channel

'It is vitally important the Royal Navy demonstrates its presence'

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The Independent Online

Russian warships are expected to pass through the English channel on Saturday night.

The Royal Navy has dispatched a vessel to monitor the Steregushchiy-class corvettes, named Soobrazitelny and Boiky.

The ships were detected in the North Sea in the early hours of Friday and were later joined by a support tanker and tug boat.

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The Russian fleet will be monitored by the Royal Navy as they pass the south coast of England.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “HMS Sutherland is carefully marking these Russian ships as they pass close to UK waters. The Royal Navy maintains a vigilant watch and is always ready to keep Britain safe.”

The Plymouth-based HMS Sutherland, a high readiness vessel, will escort the ships and track their movement using radar.

The ships commanding officer, Commander Andrew Canale, said: “As one of the Royal Navy’s high readiness units, HMS Sutherland is required to escort warships that approach the UK and this task is considered routine business for us.

“It is vitally important the Royal Navy demonstrates its presence and commitment to the integrity of UK territorial waters as we work around the clock to secure the seas of our island nation.”

Russian vessels and aircrafts have come close to British territory on a number of occasions in the last year, as tensions between the two countries have worsened.

The relationship between between the UK and Russia has been particularly strained in recent weeks. 

Russian recently vetoed a UN security resolution on Syria, where Moscow-backed Syrian ruler, Bashar al-Assad, is alleged to have used chemical weapons. The UK has called on Assad to step down. 

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