Calls for more information about Russian naval visit

A still from a Russian TV news report showing a Type 45 destroyer, reported to be HMS Defender
A still from a Russian TV news report showing a Type 45 destroyer, reported to be HMS Defender
Picture: Amanda Morby

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The Scottish National Party has called on the Ministry of Defence to clarify the situation over a Royal Navy warship reportedly keeping an eye on Russian vessels off the coast.

It comes after Portsmouth-based HMS Defender was sent to the Scottish coast before Christmas amid reports of Russian vessels in the waters nearby.

Now, Russian media reports appear to show the Admiral Kuznetsov being refuelled off Scotland.

It is the same Russian vessel which required a Royal Navy escort to be scrambled from Portsmouth in 2012.

The SNP’s defence spokesman Angus Robertson said: ‘We welcome friends from Russia and elsewhere, but it is intolerable that there are no UK conventional naval vessels or maritime patrol aircraft in Scotland to perform basic escort duties.

‘This is not the first time a vessel has had to be scrambled from the south coast of England to steam for 24 hours at high speed for 600 miles to fulfil necessary escort tasks off Scotland.’

Mr Robertson hit out at the lack of naval assets in the north of the country which are able to respond to such incidents, and has made further calls for Scottish independence.

He added: ‘The UK does not take the northern dimension seriously, having scrapped the entire maritime patrol fleet, basing not a single ocean capable conventional craft in Scotland and not even mentioning the High North and Arctic in the last Strategic Defence and Security Review.

‘With independence, Scotland will make northern maritime security a key priority. The independence White Paper has committed to key capabilities like frigates and maritime patrol aircraft based in Scotland which will do the job properly unlike the UK.’

When approached by The News, the Ministry of Defence refused to comment for operational reasons.