Three Royal Navy warships followed a Russian Navy task force as it passed through waters near the UK.
HMS Westminster, HMS Lancaster and HMS Richmond, all Type 23 frigates, followed the Slava-class cruiser Marshal Ustinov as the Russian party returned home from the eastern Mediterranean after supporting the invasion of Ukraine by President Vladimir Putin.
Marshal Ustinov was accompanied by the Udaloy-class destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov and the tanker Vyazma.
The cruiser is the sister ship of the condemned Russian warship MoskvaUkraine says it sank in a missile attack and Russia says it sank in a storm after a fire blew up ammunition on board.
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The patrol boat HMS Mersey also followed the Russian military research vessel Akademik Ioffe on its journey south through the Dover shipping lanes and into the English Channel.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster (CO), Commander Ed Moss-Ward, said: “Maritime security in maritime areas around the UK is crucial to our prosperity and resilience.
“The Royal Navy responds regularly to escort warships in UK territorial waters and adjacent maritime areas to ensure compliance with maritime law, deter malicious activity and protect our national interests.
“Escorting the Russian task force demonstrated that the Royal Navy is committed to maintaining maritime security and to cooperating with our NATO allies.”
The Royal Navy Operation
HMS Lancaster, part of NATO’s Atlantic Rapid Reaction Task Force, tracked the Russian ships from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Celtic Sea.
HMS Westminster deployed from Portsmouth to intercept Russian ships in the Celtic Sea, where Marshal Ustinov was refueled by the tanker Vyazma.
HMS Richmond kept watch in the English Channel.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster, Commander Tom Johnson, said: “Working together enables NATO allies to respond quickly to security challenges and collectively deter potential aggressors.
“The exchange of personnel further strengthens NATO’s cohesion and interoperability so that the alliance can respond quickly and effectively to any threat.
“The Lancaster team works exceptionally hard to ensure that we are always prepared to respond to any threat at any time.”