Russian forces could flare up again with the Royal Navy’s new Carrier Strike Group after Moscow stationed warships in the Mediterranean.
Large-scale drills began in the eastern Mediterranean, where the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and her warships are located, to meet ISIS and support US operations in the Middle East.
The heavily armed Russian fleet includes the missile cruiser Moskva, and Moscow boasts that its ships are complemented by upgraded Kilo-class submarines Stary Oskol and Rostov-on-Don.
The fleet is protected from the air by the anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142MK and Il-38 and the long-range bombers Tu-22M3 and MiG-31K.
The Kremlin is also stationing MiG-31K fighter jets at its new Khmeimim air base in Syria.
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These are able to transport hypersonic missiles that fly at 10 times the speed of sound and have a range of up to 2,500 miles.
Russia expert Bruce Jones said: “Russia is putting pressure on the Royal Navy because it is testing their skills as well as British determination.
“Britain is attracting the Kremlin’s attention, possibly because it sees the UK as a more vulnerable and exploitable partner to the US.”
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A diplomatic bankruptcy followed this week when Russia said it fired “warning shots” at a Royal Navy ship in the Black Sea.
It claimed the HMS Defender had been warned of controversial waters off the Crimea, but Whitehall insisted that their ship was trading legally.
Russia has a constant ground presence in Syria and mercenary troops in Libya and needs a sea presence to protect facilities from jihadists.