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British warships are set to storm the Black Sea as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to boil, sources claim.
The Sunday Times reported that the deployment is aimed to show solidarity with Ukraine amid the rising tensions.
The ships will also please Britain's NATO allies after Russian troops were sent to the border by Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin.
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.
They will then head through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, according to senior naval sources.
Tensions between Moscow and Kyiv have been boiling as clashes in eastern Ukraine continue with the army and pro-Russian separatists.
On the flagship, RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jets and Merlin submarine-hunting helicopters will stand ready on the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, in a bid to support the warships.
“Operational planning continues and this still includes the Black Sea activity,” claimed a senior defence source.
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“The US decision will have no bearing on Carrier Strike Group’s 2021 plans.”
It comes after warnings that the two countries are 'days from war' as Moscow amassed nearly 100,000 troops at the flashpoint border last week.
Earlier this month, Putin's navy piled on the pressure on Kyiv by announcing the deployment of a war-fighting fleet towards Ukraine, with the country's military sources fearing its war-planners may have wrong-footed Putin.
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A source said: “Aggressive Russian troop movements towards the border have caused a great deal of concern within the Ministry of Defence.
“The situation is being monitored constantly. I would definitely describe this as a growing crisis.”
Further, locals spotted tanks being painted with 'invasion stripes' similar to what was used by the Soviet Army during the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
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The tanks, with the white markings, were reportedly seen heading a convoy to a railway station on Wednesday.
There are also reports that Putin has sent another 30,000 troops to the border.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, accused Russia of "openly threatening" Ukraine with "destruction" by stationing troops along its border.
He said: "The world is on the side of Ukraine and international law, and this is one of the elements of restraining Russia from reckless actions."
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson told the Sunday Times the UK government was working closely with Ukraine to monitor the situation.
The govt is continuing to call on Russia to de-escalate and to pull the troops from the border.
The spokesperson said: “The UK and our international allies are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"We are working closely with Ukraine to monitor the current situation and continue to call on Russia to de-escalate.
"Our armed forces continue to support Ukraine through our training mission Operation Orbital, which has trained over 20,000 members of the armed forces of Ukraine, and the UK-led Maritime Training Initiative.”
- Royal Navy
- Vladimir Putin
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