A naval task force led by Russia’s largest warship has passed through the English Channel on its way to the Mediterranean, a Russian military official said on Friday.
The group carried out naval aviation exercises while passing close to UK territorial waters, Captain 2nd Class Yevgeny Kirillov said.
The group of ships, consisting of the Russian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and five escort vessels from Russia’s Northern Fleet, had days earlier anchored in the Moray Firth off the coast of Scotland due to inclement weather, the UK Defense Ministry confirmed on its website on Friday.
The Royal Navy dispatched the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender from Portsmouth on December 19 to escort the Russian task force. Goodwill messages were exchanged between the Russian and British ships on New Year’s Eve, the UK Defense Ministry added.
The Russian carrier group left port on December 17 for the deployment.
In August, Russian news agencies quoted a military source saying a long-distance sea deployment by Russian warships including the Admiral Kuznetsov would call at Russia’s only Mediterranean naval facility located in the Syrian port city of Tartus.
A task force led by the Admiral Kuznetsov made a port call at Tartus two years ago.
The Kuznetsov has an air group including Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D fighter jets and antisubmarine helicopters.http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20140110/186399960/Russian-Carrier-Group-Skirts-Britain-on-Trip-to-Mediterranean.html