A Navy frigate is set to escort two Russian warships through the English Channel overnight.
HMS Sutherland spotted the ships on Friday morning as they sailed through the North Sea towards the Dover Straits.
The Type 23 frigate will monitor the movements of the Steregushchiy-class corvettes, Soobrazitelny and Boiky, as they pass close to United Kingdom territorial waters today, the navy said.
A navy spokesman said the Russian ships had been joined by a support tanker and an ocean-going tug on Friday afternoon.
It comes at a time of strained relations between the countries,, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticising Russia for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, accusing Moscow of covering up the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: ‘HMS Sutherland is carefully marking these Russian ships as they pass close to UK waters.
‘The Royal Navy maintains a vigilant watch and is always ready to keep Britain safe.’ The Plymouth-based ship will use radar to track the foreign naval vessels.
“The Royal Navy maintains a vigilant watch and is always ready to keep Britain safe.”
Commander Andrew Canale, commanding officer of HMS Sutherland, said: ‘As one of the Royal Navy’s high readiness units, HMS Sutherland is required to escort warships that approach the UK and this task is considered routine business for us.