Two Russian ships, RFS Marhsall Ustinov and RFS Adml Kulakov crossed the English Channel last night. They were followed by HMS Kent and HMS Mersey, according to the military analysis platform Navy Lookout. It happened after a fleet of Russian ships entered the English Channel yesterday.
There has been speculation that the ships may be heading to the Black Sea in order to take part in an invasion of Ukraine.
But the Russian army recently announced that it plans to hold a military exercise 240 km southwest of Ireland between February 3 and 8.
The Russian ships left the Baltic Sea region yesterday, preceded by three others the day before, media outlet The Drive reported.
In recent days, Russian ships have been escorted by numerous EU forces.
Three of the Russian ships were escorted through international waters by a helicopter and a Royal Netherlands Navy ship as they headed for the English Channel.
Surveillance was then taken over by Belgian and British forces upon their arrival in the Channel.
At least one French ship is also said to have been dispatched to monitor Russian ships.
It comes amid growing fears of war with Russia, as Mr Putin has built up 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.
But speaking to the Daily Mirror, a Defense Ministry spokesman said escorting Russian ships was “standard practice”.
They added: “As part of a unified action with our allies, the Royal Navy monitors the presence of Russian warships as they cross the English Channel.”
READ MORE: Russian Navy fleet enters English Channel – in path of NATO ship
Speaking at a joint press meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Putin said: “Ukraine itself is just an instrument to achieve this goal.
“It can be done in different ways, by dragging us into some sort of armed conflict and, with the help of their allies in Europe, forcing the introduction against us of these severe sanctions that they are now talking about in the United States.
He added: “Let’s imagine that Ukraine is a member of NATO and starts these military operations.
“Are we supposed to go to war with the NATO bloc?
“Has anyone thought of that?” Apparently not.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Russia demanded that NATO promise to block Ukraine’s entry into the alliance.
In response to Mr. Putin’s recent comments, a senior State Department official said: “If President Putin really has no intention of going to war or changing the regime, the secretary told the minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov, then now is the time to withdraw the troops and the heavy weapons and engage in a serious discussion.”
Mr Orban said he believed it would be possible to find a compromise with Russia and “secure peace”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to meet Mr Putin this week.
He has previously accused Russia of choosing the “path of conflict”.