LONDON (REUTERS) – British warships will sail for the Black Sea in May amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing senior naval sources.
The deployment is aimed at showing solidarity with Ukraine and Britain’s Nato allies, the newspaper reported.
One Type 45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles and an anti-submarine Type 23 frigate will leave the Royal Navy’s carrier task group in the Mediterranean and head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, according to the report.
RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin submarine-hunting helicopters will stand ready on the task group’s flag ship, the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to support the warships in the Black Sea, the report added.
Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have been rising amid a build-up of Russian troops along the border and clashes in eastern Ukraine between the army and pro-Russian separatists.
Officials at the UK Ministry of Defence were not immediately available for comment.
A ministry spokesman told the newspaper that the UK government was working closely with Ukraine to monitor the situation and continued to call on Russia to de-escalate.
“The UK and our international allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the newspaper quoted the spokesman as saying.