Tensions between Russia and Britain are heating up on the high seas. Britain's Royal Navy has dispatched ships and a helicopter in recent days to track and, in some cases, escort Russian naval ships near UK waters, reports the Washington Post. The British warship HMS St. Albans escorted the Russian Admiral Gorshkov frigate on Monday through what British officials called "areas of national interest" on Christmas Day, per the AP. In addition, a Royal Navy helicopter tracked other Russian vessels in the area. And on Christmas Eve, a navy vessel escorted a Russian intelligence-gathering ship through the North Sea and English Channel.
"Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people, and our national interests," said British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson on Tuesday. The incidents at sea follow a difficult visit to Moscow by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson just before Christmas. Johnson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov disagreed on a number of policy points, reflecting increasing tensions between Britain and Russia. Johnson accused Russia of meddling in Britain's internal affairs but said there were still areas in which the two countries could work together. British officials warned this month that Russian ships may cut undersea internet cables in a bid to disrupt communications and commerce.