Russian military build-up on Ukrainian border

UK warships sail towards Black Sea amid Russian troop build-up near Ukraine

Deployment intended to show solidarity with Kiev and Nato allies, senior naval sources say

Ella Glover
Sunday 18 April 2021 16:48
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Royal Navy warships will sail for the Black Sea next month amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, The Sunday Times has reported.

Citing senior naval sources, the newspaper said the deployment was intended to show solidarity with Kiev and Nato allies. 

One Type 45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate will leave the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, according to the report.

RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin submarine-hunting helicopters will stand ready on the task group’s flag ship, the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to support the warships in the Black Sea.

The news comes after Joe Biden cancelled the deployment of two ships to the Black Sea, Turkish diplomatic sources told Reuters.

However, US officials said the deployment was never confirmed. 

Tensions have been rising between Russia and Ukraine since Moscow ordered a troop build-up near Ukraine’s eastern border late last month. 

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence said the UK was “unwavering” in its support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

The spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Ukraine to monitor the current situation and continue to call on Russia to de-escalate.

“Our armed forces continue to support Ukraine through our training mission Operation Orbital, which has trained over 20,000 members of the armed forces of Ukraine, and the UK-led Maritime Training Initiative.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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