1. ITV Report

Navy escorts two Russian warships approaching UK waters

The Royal Navy's HMS Sutherland will escort the Russian ships away from UK waters. Credit: PA/Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is sending a ship to meet two Russian warships approaching UK waters.

HMS Sutherland will escort and monitor the Soobrazitelny and Boiky ships, which are expected to pass through the English Channel on Saturday night.

The Russian boats were located by the Plymouth-based Type 23 frigate as they sailed through the North Sea towards the Dover Straits on Friday morning.

The two Steregushchiy-class corvettes were spotted travelling together with a Russian support tanker and ocean-going tug.

HMS Sutherland is carefully marking these Russian ships as they pass close to UK waters.

The Royal Navy maintains a vigilant watch and is always ready to keep Britain safe.

– Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon

It comes at a time of heightened tension with Russia over its staunch support of Syrian president Bashar Assad despite allegations that he used poison gas on his own people.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault have recently sharply criticised Moscow for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on Syria.

They accused Moscow and Tehran of covering up details of Bashar Assad's chemical weapons use.

Commander Andrew Canale, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, said: "As one of the Royal Navy's high-readiness units, HMS Sutherland is required to escort warships that approach the UK and this task is considered routine business for us.

"It is vitally important the Royal Navy demonstrates its presence and commitment to the integrity of UK territorial waters as we work around the clock to secure the seas of our island nation."

In January, HMS St Albans escorted Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, battle cruiser Petr Velikiy and a tug as they passed close to UK territorial waters.

The RAF and Navy were also scrambled several times last year to escort Russian aircraft and ships near the UK.