The Russian navy is conducting drills in the English Channel, the country’s military press service announced Friday. The latest move by the Russian navy is considered to be a demonstration of military power since the country’s ties with the West deteriorated over the Ukraine crisis.
According to the statement, a squadron of warships from the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet is holding drills in the English Channel after entering neutral waters off the Seine Bay to wait out a storm, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
“Today, a squadron of ships and support vessels from the Northern Fleet … have passed the narrowest part of the English Channel in the Strait of Dover and have entered a bay near the mouth of the River Seine,” the military press service said, in the statement, adding: “During the stop, the crew members will conduct a series of activities to combat the underwater subversive forces, hold drills on ensuring survival of the ship when it sinks or catches fire.”
The Russian vessels, led by anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Alexander Otrakovskiy, passed through the Strait of Dover and were in international waters in the bay off France, waiting for a storm to pass. According to the RIA Novosti report, the group of Russian warships left the northern city of Severomorsk on Nov. 20, and has travelled 1,700 miles so far.
However, the French Navy, which also confirmed the ships' location, stated that the presence of the Russian ships in the Channel is not unusual. “They are not holding exercises. They’re just waiting in a zone where they can be several times a year,” the French Navy's information service said, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, the Russian defense ministry had announced that the missile cruiser Moskva (Moscow) held drills on air defense and the use of “rocket, artillery and torpedo weapons” in a rare visit to the South China Sea. The drills were followed by a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Beijing.