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A convoy of Russian warships heading for the Mediterranean is sailing down the English Channel - "marked every inch of the way" by the Royal Navy. reports referring to BBC.

The fleet also reportedly includes the Pyotr Velikiy battlecruiser, the Severomorsk anti-submarine ship, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer and other support vessels.

The most sensitive part of the fleet's journey is through the English Channel's narrowest point at the Strait of Dover.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's armed flotilla is believed to be heading to Syria, to support Russia's military operations in the war-torn country.

The Ministry of Defence said "It is pretty unambiguous that they have set a course to pass through the Dover Strait".

A spokesman said: "They haven't slowed or sped up. They are going to be past Dover in the next few hours.

"When they are clear of the Dover traffic separation scheme, they will probably break back out in a formation scheme and be on their way.

"We still don't know where that is and how they are going to get there, but everything so far has been exactly how we would have expected."

British ships, including two destroyers - HMS Duncan and HMS Dragon - were deployed earlier this week and have been monitoring the Russian vessels.

The Russian fleet, which has been heading south from the Norwegian Sea, has also been escorted by frigates HMS Richmond and HMS Duncan.

A NATO official said: "Russia has the right to operate in international waters. There are plans in place for NATO navies to monitor the Russian ships as they head for the Mediterranean.

"At the same time, the deployment of the carrier group to the eastern Mediterranean does not inspire confidence that Russia is working towards a political solution to the conflict in Syria."

According to the Russian news agency Tass, Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told a meeting in September the plan was to bolster the "combat capabilities" of the country's Mediterranean fleet.

A statement from the fleet to the agency said: "Special focus will be made on safeguarding security of maritime traffic and other types of maritime economic activity of Russia and also on responding to the new kinds of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism."

2016.10.21 / 15:32
Valeh Mammadli
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