Russia Reminds UK It Is A 'Force To Be Reckoned With'; Russian Bombers, Warships Seen Near UK

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A Tupolev Tu-160 bomber, an Ilyushin Il-78 refueling tanker and three MiG-31 fighter jets fly in formation over Red Square and the Kremlin during a military parade dress rehearsal in Moscow May 6, 2010.
IN PHOTO: A Tupolev Tu-160 bomber, an Ilyushin Il-78 refueling tanker and three MiG-31 fighter jets fly in formation over Red Square and the Kremlin during a military parade dress rehearsal in Moscow May 6, 2010. Reuters/Vladimir Nikolsky

Warships from Russia’s Northern Fleet have been detected entering the English Channel ahead of the scheduled military exercises involving anti-submarine and anti-aircraft drills. The British Ministry of Defence also revealed that Royal Air Force Typhoon jets have been scrambled and deployed after Russian military aircraft were seen flying close to UK airspace.

The two quick reaction jets were immediately scrambled from the Lossiemouth in north Scotland. Russian bombers were spotted flying in international airspace and heading towards North East Scotland. HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate, was deployed to monitor the activity of the Russian warships as the Typhoon jets were sent to escort the Russian bombers. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence confirmed the sightings and said that the Russian planes were escorted by RAF jets in the UK area of interest.

Voyagers from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire were also sent to provide air refuelling support for the British jet. The National Air Defence Operations Centre had provided the communications and radar assistance.  Although the Russian planes did not enter British airspace, their appearance near it may be viewed as Moscow’s second attempt to display its military power in just a matter of hours, reports Sky News.

James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, reacted to the news of Russian warships spotted in the English Channel. He said the Channel is a “legitimate shipping lane.” He believes the incident didn’t happen by chance. “Russia is trying to show it has got a full spectrum capability warfare,” added Nixey.

He explained that although the incident does not mean a “prelude to war”, it is seen as a reminder that Russia is a force to be reckoned with and not a fading power. Dozens of NATO warships had gathered off the coast of Scotland to participate in the UK-led war games, reports The Telegraph.

In Nov. 2014, the Royal Navy tracked a group of Russian warships as they passed through the Strait of Dover following exercises in the North Sea. A Russian warship was spotted three months later as it passed the English Channel. 

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