Royal Navy
The British Royal Navy ship HMS Enterprise (right) arrives from Tripoli, Libya, at Valletta's Grand Harbor on Aug. 4, 2014. Reuters

The British defense ministry was keeping an eye on three Russian warships passing through the English Channel amid reports that the ships were going to conduct military exercises, the ministry’s Twitter account posted Tuesday. The monitoring of the three Russian warships isn’t the first time that Britain has watched Russian ships: In November the Royal Navy monitored Russian warships that passed through the Strait of Dover after conducting military exercises in the North Sea, the Associated Press reported.

Despite the news reports, the defense ministry said it did not observe signs of the three Russian warships -- the Russian Udaloy class destroyer Severomorsk along with a tanker and support ship -- conducting military drills. “No exercises seen,” the Twitter account posted. The Royal Navy ship HMS Argyll was monitoring the ships, the ministry said:

Britain has had other close encounters with Russia’s military. In February, Royal Air Force fighter jets were scrambled in response to two Russian aircraft seen off the coast of Cornwall, England, the BBC reported. At the time, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he didn’t want to give the Russian action “too much of a response.” Cameron said the incident “demonstrates … that we do have the fast jets, the pilots, the systems in place to protect the U.K. I suspect the Russians were trying to make sort of a point.”

In 2014, every 1 in 3 times that RAF jets had to be scrambled was due to Russian aircraft nearly approaching British airspace, the Telegraph reported. “The point of the flights is to show they [Russia] are to be taken seriously. Like an animal that wants to look bigger than it really is, the bristles come out. That’s what’s going on,” Sir Tony Brenton, Britain's ambassador to Russia from 2004 to 2008, told the paper. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s signal is we are still a very serious international player and you better bloody well remember it. Part of that is big Russian bombers flying very close to the British coast.”

The monitoring of the Russian ships comes as tensions grow between Moscow and the West over the crisis in Ukraine. Despite a cease-fire between pro-Russia rebels and the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine in February, bombings and military operations have persisted.