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Russian Warships Enter English Channel Amid Tension Over Ukraine

Friday, 28 Nov 2014 09:33 AM

Russian warships entered the English Channel today amid simmering tensions with the U.S. and Europe over the conflict in Ukraine.

The squadron will conduct exercises in the area, according to a spokeswoman for Russia’s Northern Fleet. At least four vessels led by the anti-submarine ship Severomorsk plan drills in the expanse of water separating England from continental Europe, the state-run news service RIA Novosti reported, citing a statement by the Russian Navy. NATO said the foray isn’t “alarming, it’s normal maritime traffic.”

Russia is embroiled in its most serious confrontation with the U.S. and its European allies since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. With tensions flaring over Ukraine, NATO jets have tracked Russian military planes over the Baltic and North seas and the Atlantic Ocean in recent weeks.

The alliance has sent jets to intercept Russian planes more than 400 times this year, a 50 percent increase from 2013, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Nov. 20. This month, Russia has also announced plans to extend its long-range bomber patrols as far as the Gulf of Mexico.

The government in Moscow denies accusations of stoking the months-long unrest in neighboring Ukraine, where more than 4,300 people have been killed during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government troops.

Air, Sea

While recent tensions with NATO have centered on aerial encounters, Russia also moved warships toward Australia on the eve of a Group of 20 summit this month. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said the flotilla was a symbol of “international machismo.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said this month that his country is not making a fuss about increased activity around its borders by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the military alliance should do the same.

Four Russian ships left British waters after being escorted through the Straits of Dover from the North Sea by the Royal Navy warship HMS Tyne, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in an e-mailed statement today, adding that all vessels have the right to transit through the area under international law.

The Russian squadron was waiting for a storm to pass in neutral waters of the Seine Bay after passing through the Straits of Dover, RIA cited the Russian navy as saying in the statement. The warships left their main fleet base of Severomorsk on Nov. 20, it said.

The vessels, which also include an amphibious assault ship and a rescue tug boat, plan exercises that include anti-sabotage training and damage control in case of fire and water intake, according to RIA. The spokeswoman for the Northern Fleet in the Arctic port of Severomorsk declined to comment on their mission, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

“The Russians have every right, as do all navies, to transit the English Channel,” NATO spokesman Jay Jansen said by phone. “It’s an international waterway, as long as they stay out of territorial waters.”


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Russian warships entered the English Channel today amid simmering tensions with the U.S. and Europe over the conflict in Ukraine.The squadron will conduct exercises in the area, according to a spokeswoman for Russia's Northern Fleet. At least four vessels led by the...
russian, warships, ukraine, tension
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2014-33-28
Friday, 28 Nov 2014 09:33 AM
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