Pentagon and NATO brass have issued fresh warnings about increased Russian naval activity in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, with the top U.S. Navy admiral saying this week Russian submarine operations are currently at levels not seen since the Cold War.
That’s one reason the Navy plans to stand up a new command later this month to deal with the return of an old foe.
Tuesday night provided the latest example of Russia’s new show of force. A British Type 45 guided-missile destroyer escorted two Russian warships through the English Channel.
The Royal Navy posted video of HMS Diamond alongside the Russian destroyer Severomorsk and cruisier Marshal Ustinov in the English Channel. Interactions like this have become so common, the Royal Navy has warships standing 24-hour alert in port.
The incident took place one day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson, at the Pentagon. It marked the second time the same British warship had responded to approaching Russian Navy warships, according to the warship’s commanding officer.
This week, the U.S. Navy’s highest ranking officer, Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told VOA Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic is “more than we’ve seen in 25 years.”
But a day later, Mattis downplayed the perceived threat from the Russian Navy.
“We always keep an eye on the submarines at sea and I prefer not to say any more than that,” Mattis told reporters on the Pentagon steps ahead of Williamson’s visit.
A recent Russian missile test provided another example of Russia’s resurgence at sea.