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UK Royal Navy escorts Russian ships in Channel

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LONDON (AP) — A Royal Navy warship has met and tracked a group of Russian military ships entering the English Channel in an operation that the Ministry of Defense repeatedly stressed was a routine matter.

Britain's HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer, monitored the movement of the seven-strong Russian group Thursday led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The navy says that once the ships spotted each other they "sailed close by as a standard 'meet and greet.' "

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond says the deployment was a pre-planned operation and organized after British authorities learned of the Kuznetzov's route.

The same Russian group, which also includes the nuclear-powered battle cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, went in the opposite direction through the Channel last year.

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