00:59 GMT13 June 2021
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    The UK Navy claimed in early December 2020 that Royal Navy warships had been monitoring a significant Russian presence close to the west coast of Scotland in Britain’s territorial waters, with First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, saying “we are always ready to respond”.

    UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has accused Russia’s “nosy” submarines of reportedly circling Britain’s entire coastline, as he gave an interview for the Sunday Telegraph.

    “We’re regularly visited by nosy Russian ships, and we are regularly visited now by a number of Russian warships,” said Wallace, adding that Moscow had been carrying out “a number of operations, deliberately at Britain”.

    As the Defence chief added that a Russian kilo class submarine had ostensibly been detected in the Irish Sea late last year, which had not been seen "for a very, very long time, he emphasised:

    "We have tried de-escalation, we have tried methods but at the moment until Russia changes its attitude, it’s quite hard to see where we’re going to go."

    The Defence Secretary’s statement echo last year’s reports by the UK Navy. In December 2020 the Royal warships claimed to have observed a significant presence of Russian vessels near the kingdom’s territorial waters.

    HMS Mersey have shadowed a surfaced Russian submarine as it passed through the waters close to the UK
    © Photo : Royal Navy/twitter
    HMS Mersey have shadowed a surfaced Russian submarine as it passed through the waters close to the UK

    At the time, Russia was accused of “flexing its muscles in Britain’s back yard” by the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter, as he gave a speech to the Royal United Services Institute.

    According to the Sunday Telegraph, a total of 150 Russian naval assets had been spotted by the UK Navy since 2013, with Royal Navy fleets often responding by dispatching a frigate or destroyer to monitor their movements.

    Wallace also told the outlet that Moscow was the UK’s “number one adversary threat”.

    “This is a country that killed someone in Salisbury,” said Wallace.

    Moscow-London ties have been at an all-time low after former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in March 2018 in the UK city.

    London asserted, without any proof, that the Kremlin played a role in the incident. Mosocw refuted the allegations as unsubstantiated by any evidence incriminating Russia.

    ‘Most Acute Threat’

    Earlier in the year the UK Conservative government labelled Russia as "the most acute threat to our security" as it published it’s “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy”.

    In response, Russia, while repeatedly rejected allegations of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, has stressed that UK political and military officials often cite the alleged Russian threat in an attempt to justify their own expanding military budgets.

    British troops
    © Flickr / UK Ministry of Defence
    British troops

    The previous year also saw the publication of a report commissioned for the British parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee that pronounced Russia's cyber-capability to be a "matter of grave concern" and posing an "immediate and urgent threat" to the UK's national security.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by emphasising the report contained "groundless accusations" that he said could not be "substantiated".

    ‘Re-engagement with Old Allies’

    As Ben Wallace was speaking to the outlet, the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth on her maiden voyage to the Far East.

    Ben Wallace described Britain's new aircraft carrier as “where hard and soft power meet”.

    “So, going to the Pacific shows that we can operate 8,000 miles away… It shows that our friends like Japan – with common values, democracy, open economies – that we have that common link and that we can operate together, because the biggest strength is people who share our values. We have alliances and we have friends,” said Wallace.


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