Great Britain had its hackles raised today as Russia's largest fleet of warships made its way through the British Channel. Escorted by ships of the British Royal Navy, UK headlines touted the essence of their understanding about the passage.
Russia taunts US with biggest military offensive since the Cold War, said The Telegraph.
Russian warships sail down English Channel en route to Syria, announced the Daily Mail.
Russian warships to sail down English Channel today in provocative pincer movement, explained The Mirror.
Britain is WATCHING: Royal Navy intercept Russian warships on way to UK amid WW3 fears, cried the Express.
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Two British warships are tracking a Russian fleet that is reportedly heading toward Syria. pic.twitter.com/QBvY3jfchY— CNBC International (@CNBCi) October 20, 2016
When the fleet was launched six days ago, Moscow's explanation was teasingly abstruse. "The group consists of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, the Pyotr Velikiy battlecruiser, large anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov and support vessels," began an official statement by the fleet.
The goal of the voyage, it continued, is "to ensure naval presence in the important areas of the World Ocean. 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."
While Russia has offered no further explanation, its ally, the Islamic Repubic of Iran news agency, PressTV, has offered its interpretation of Moscow's intent.
Russia has been engaged in an aerial campaign against terrorist groups in Syria upon a request by the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for more than one year.
The UK, along with the United States and some of their allies, has been conducting a so-called anti-terror campaign in Syria and neighboring Iraq for more than two years.
However, they have done little to stop the Takfiri terrorists; instead their air raids have killed many civilians, and caused extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure.
Russia along with the Syrian armed forces, have inflicted heavy losses on the foreign-sponsored militants in the Arab country. Their victories worried the West that has actively been seeking the ouster of President Assad.
For its part, Israel's immediate concern is the potential for accidental hostilities as an increased number Russian fighter jets further crowd Syrian airspace. Jerusalem has an arrangement with Moscow whereby both sides work together to inform the other of its activities. Israel's has maintained the right to strike against any terror threat from Syrian territory. Although details have not been disclosed, there is concern that logistics for maintaining the arrangement are about to become exponentially more complex.
Notably, Russia's launch of its Northern Fleet on 15 October came on the heals of a disputed report that, on 11 October, Moscow "recommended" that all State officials immediately bring home children studying abroad. It is a summons often made in anticipation of war. A Kremlin official quickly denied the summons had been made. Still, the impression remained: Russia is aware that its conduct in Syria could trigger military hostilities with the West, especially members of NATO, including the United States.