British military alarmed by Russian warships in North Sea

British military officials became alarmed on Monday after seeing what they said amounted to aggression — with Russian warships moving through the North Sea.

Britain's Royal Navy frigate HMS St Albans escorts a Russian warship through the North Sea on Christmas Day, officials said. Photo by Royal Navy/EPA
Britain’s Royal Navy frigate HMS St Albans escorts a Russian warship through the North Sea on Christmas Day, officials said. Photo by Royal Navy/EPA

The Royal Navy said it escorted the Russian vessels through the sea after they passed near British territorial waters.

The HMS St. Albans, with a crew of 190, was sent to monitor the Admiral Gorshkov frigate on Saturday, officials said.

The HMS Tyne also shadowed a Russian intelligence-gathering ship through the North Sea.

The incident came amid what British officials say is an upsurge in Russian vessels traveling through London’s territorial waters.

“Missing parts of Christmas and New Year with our families is never easy, but it is absolutely required as part of our duty to keep Britain safe all year round,” Chris Ansell, a commanding officer of HMS St Albans, said.

“Christmas Eve saw some particularly exciting and bumpy weather, with some of my newer sailors getting used to their sea legs, but we have made sure the job was done and I will get my team back home as soon as possible.”

Although Russia is allowed to sail through British and international waters, according to the law of the sea, the recent upsurge is seen by some as intentionally provocative.

“I will not hesitate in defending our waters or tolerate any form of aggression,” British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said. “Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people and our national interests.”

More than 1,500 British sailors were deployed over Christmas, as well as 950 soldiers and airmen to Estonia and Poland and about 1,500 to the Middle East to fight Islamic State militants.

By Sara Shayanian