A British frigate spent Christmas Day tailing a new Russian warship undergoing tests near the United Kingdom, the Royal Navy said Tuesday.
The HMS St. Albans escorted the Admiral Gorshkov through parts of the North Sea, watching “activity in areas of national interest,” the Royal Navy said.
The St. Albans, staffed by 190 sailors, started following the Russian missile-guided frigate Saturday, which local media noted has been undergoing tests.
It wasn’t immediately in what direction the Gorshkov was headed.
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A Royal Navy helicopter was deployed to escort additional vessels in the region, officials said.
“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people and our national interests,” Defense Secretary Gavin William said Tuesday.
The St. Albans was due to return to Portsmouth on Tuesday, the BBC reports.
The news comes amid a rough patch for UK-Russian relations, and concerns the Kremlin is trying to tamper with crucial internet lines.
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Britain and its NATO allies have scrambled jets in recent years as Russian vessels get too close for comfort in the region.
The Gorshkov is the first of an expected six frigates introduced to the Russian Navy between now and 2025, according to Russian reports.
The United Shipbuilding Corporation said Monday that the 4,500-ton vessel won’t be introduced to the Russian Navy until 2018, according to Russia’s TASS news agency. The ship, which first went afloat seven years ago, still needs to undergo tests, which began in November 2014.
A second warship, Admiral Kasatonov, is expected to enter the Russian Navy immediately after the Gorshkov.
The high-seas meetup this week came days after British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson ventured to Moscow, where he had a tense meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
The nations’ relationship has cooled over the last three years, since Russia added the Crimean peninsula back during Ukraine’s civil war.
The UK is worried Russian warships could be cutting underwater internet cables in a bid to disrupt communications in Britain, according to reports.
Such a disruption would “immediately and potentially catastrophically” impact the British economy, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said in early December, according to the BBC.
With News Wire Services
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