Russia plays chicken with UK: Missile carriers deployed to Med to pressure British ship

Russian Navy ship sends 'warning shots' in Royal Navy encounter

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Moscow has posted a number of top-of-the-range military aircrafts to a base in Syria to monitor the trajectory of the UK’s flagship aircraft carrier. This includes Vladimir Putin’s new hypersonic “aircraft carrier killer missile”, three supersonic Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers and two MiG-31k fighters armed with Kinzhal (“dagger”) anti-ship missiles. It comes after Moscow claimed a patrol ship fired warning shots and bombs near the UK’s HMS Defender as the ship travelled near Crimea last week.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is on a 28-week maiden deployment and is currently sailing in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Royal Navy ship is being accompanied by two destroyers, two frigates, an Astute class nuclear-powered attack submarine and two support vessels.

Russia has said it is monitoring the movement of the UK vessels and has deployed its new Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile to help with the mission.

The weapon is capable of flying at ten times the speed of sound (12,350kph or 7,670mph) and has a range of about 2,000km (1,250miles).

It can be armed with a nuclear warhead.

The missile was one of the new generation of weapons highlighted by President Putin in 2019.

He claimed Russia was the first country to deploy a hypersonic weapon.

The missile was being carried by two Mig-31k supersonic fighter jets that have been dispatched to the country’s Khmeimim airbase in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia.

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The two fighter aircrafts, codenamed Foxhound by Nato, are participating in a Russian naval exercise in the same region as HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Russia’s defence ministry confirmed the two Foxhound’s will monitor “the actions of the [Royal Navy] aircraft carrier group”, according to the Times.

Three Tu- 22M3 Backfire-C strategic bombers are also at the Khmeimim airbase taking part in the same exercise and can be armed with long-range cruise missiles.

British military sources believe Moscow could attempt to “make a statement” by deploying the fighters nearby HMS Elizabeth.

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A source told the Sunday Express: “There is an expectation that Moscow is seeking to make a statement and will attempt to get fighters close to the carrier.”

The UK has also ensured HMS Elizabeth has strong protection, with the RAF deploying long range radar aircrafts to protect the vessel.

Two RAF AWACS airborne early warning planes, codenamed “Nato 30” and “Nato 31”, were launched last week from RAF Waddington to ensure a radar “ring of steel” around the aircraft carrier and its escorts.

The strong response by Moscow towards Britain’s inaugural operational deployment of the £3.2billion, 65,000-tonne carrier, is a further show of force by the country.

Last week the Russian Defence Ministry claimed it had fired two warning shots at HMS Defender after the ship travelled through disputer waters 12km off the Crimean coast.

They also claimed to have dropped bombs near the Royal Navy’s Type-45 destroyer.

The Ministry of Defence disputed Moscow’s version of events, and said no warning shots had been fired.

The Ministry of Defence added in a statement: “We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity.

“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”

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