Warships from the UK Royal Navy will sail for the Black Sea in May in solidarity with Kiev amid an escalation in the Ukraine crisis, The Sunday Times reported.
Senior naval sources told The Sunday Times that a Type 45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate will separate from the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea next month.
RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin submarine-hunting helicopters will stand ready on the task group’s flagship, the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to support the warships in the Black Sea, the newspaper said, specifying that putting the ships off the coast of Ukraine is meant to demonstrate solidarity with Kiev and the NATO allies in the region.
A British Ministry of Defense spokesman told the newspaper that the UK and its allies “are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and are calling on Russia to de-escalate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, spoke over the phone about Ukraine on Tuesday. Biden said he was concerned about Russia amassing troops near the border and asked Moscow to ease tensions with its neighbor.
Russia maintains that the troop movement is aimed at ensuring national security in response to NATO’s own build-up near Russia’s borders.