The Royal Navy has monitored nine Russian vessels around the UK in recent weeks.
It is important to understand that the passage of foreign warships near (not through) UK sovereign waters is routine and that the Russian vessels were at all times sailing legally in international waters.
According to the Royal Navy in a statement:
“Every move made by the Russians – a surfaced submarine, destroyer, corvette, patrol ship and their supporting tugs and supply ships – was watched closely by eight RN ships from the English Channel and the Celtic Sea to waters close to the west coast of Scotland in a concerted operation over the last two weeks.
Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland watched the movements of Udaloy-class destroyer, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov, as she sailed North West of the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. Patrol ship HMS Severn was on duty in the English Channel and Dover Strait, where she shadowed a surfaced Kilo-class submarine, the Stary Oskol, the corvette Boikiy, patrol ship Vasiliy Bykov and support ships.
Severn was also on patrol as the Vice-Admiral Kulakov sailed through the Channel. For some of the operation, the Russian ships sheltered from bad weather within the Baie de Seine, a bay in northern France, where Severn was joined by allied French Navy ships and aircraft. HMS Lancaster joined Severn in this operation, closely tracking Steregushchiy-class corvette Boikiy in the Channel and using her Wildcat helicopter to gather intelligence using the aircraft’s powerful array of sensors.”
First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, said:
“This is why the Royal Navy is at sea every day, protecting the UK and our interests. Even with the pressures of Covid, we remain at short notice to respond to threats both in home waters and around the world. Despite the increase in Russian activity, both on the surface and underwater, we are always ready to respond.”
Commander Philip Harper, Commanding Officer of HMS Severn, said:
“In very challenging conditions with rough weather, Severn and several other British and allied ships, have spent 20 days ensuring that Russian transiting warships remain under our watchful eyes.”
The Royal Navy also say that meanwhile, three Royal Navy warships – HMS Tyne, HMS Richmond and HMS Kent – combined to escort the same group of Russian ships as they operated in the Celtic Sea and approaches to the South West coast of the UK.
“This task group were joined by RAF Typhoon and F-35s jets, plus tankers RFA Tideforce and RFA Tiderace, which kept the allied ships replenished throughout the operations and contributed to monitoring duties while in the Irish Sea.”