The number of occasions that the Royal Navy were despatched to respond to Russian Navy ships approaching UK territorial waters has doubled since 2013.
Data obtained the UK Defence Journal shows that Royal Navy vessels were despatched 31 times in 2018 to intercept and monitor the Russian Navy. This is up from 12 in 2013.
The most recent event occurred in March this year when HMS Defender intercepted a Russian task group along the coast of the UK. This involved the frigate Admiral Gorshkov and three auxiliary ships. Defender continued to track the group until they had left what the MoD described as the UK’s “area of national interest.”
“Russia has developed a more assertive military posture towards the West”
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster
Commander Richard Hewitt said the operation showed the Royal Navy’s “enduring commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake such tasking whenever it’s required”.
Russian warships from its northern and Baltic fleets routinely pass through UK territorial waters en route to or from deployments in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions.
When the Ministry of Defence was asked about this in a parliamentary written question, it stated:
“The Ministry of Defence routinely monitors the activity of foreign military vessels, but does not release these figures for National security reasons”
While is unclear why they chose to release the data on this occasion, they took 85 days to respond. This is considerably higher than the usual response time for Freedom of Information requests.
The full data is as follows for ‘Number of Occasions that Royal Navy Ships were Activated in response to Russian Navy ships approaching UK territorial waters’:
- 2013: 12
- 2014: 11
- 2015: 14
- 2016: 20
- 2017: 33
- 2018: 31
- 2019 (to 31 March): 1