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Why were Russian warships in English Channel?

MOD treating Russian fleet's behaviour as a test of British military resilience in face of coronavirus outbreak.

Russian ships in British channels
Credit: Forces Network

The Independent and Guardian reported this week, how the Royal Navy were forced to deploy nine ships to shadow seven Russian vessels in waters around the country in what is being considered as a testing of the British military’s resilience capabilities whilst the country struggles to come to terms with the corona virus out-break.

The Ministry of Defence said the ships took part in the operation after “unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and the North Sea”,. He added that Merlin helicopters were deployed to carry out “intelligence gathering sorties” on the Russian ships.

The Russian group consisted of three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates, plus their supporting auxiliary ships and tugs.

It is not unusual for Royal Navy ships to routinely escort Russian naval vessels through the English Channel however, the size of the flotilla and the timing of it, causes suspicion it is a way of probing the UK’s defences amid the demands made by the Corona Virus Pandemic.

More than to 10,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen have been deployed in Britain to help ‘on the ground’ to deal with the outbreak, and the (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) is working with other government scientific and medical departments, including Public Health England. The Covid Support Force is in addition to 10,000 armed forces personnel who deal with major acts of terrorism or natural disasters.

The military is also being used to provide logistical support, such as maintaining supplies to hospitals, clinics and vulnerable people.

Is there a connection?


Iran and Russia are also military allies in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq and partners in Afghanistan and post-Soviet Central Asia. Due to Western economic sanctions on Iran, Russia has become a key trading partner, especially in regard to Iran’s excess oil reserves.

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