Ben Wallace urged to lay out response to Russian ‘spy ship’ in UK waters

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The Defence Secretary has faced calls to reveal to MPs how the UK is responding to a Russian “spy ship” which has patrolled in UK waters.

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone raised concerns about sightings of the Admiral Vladimirsky, a Russian ship which was spotted off the coast of his Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency in northern Scotland.

While officially classified as an ocean research vessel, a joint investigation by European broadcasters says it is part of a fleet which is examining key energy sites for possible sabotage.

A Danish news crew recently published a video of a close encounter with the vessel in November last year, which showed a man, wearing a balaclava and military gear, and carrying an assault rifle, appearing on the deck of the ship.

The ship is thought to have entered the Moray Firth on November 10 last year, as part of a month-long journey across the Baltic Sea and North Sea.

Royal Navy shadow Russian Navy task force
File photo of the Royal Navy monitoring a Russian ship (royal Navy/MoD/PA)

He said: “It is not a trawler, it is not a pleasure boat, it is a spy ship complete with armed guards.

“It has been snooping around the Beatrice oil field and examining the interconnector to my constituency.

“It has been snooping around the oil stations in the North Sea and the oil pipelines.”

Mr Stone also referred to last year’s as-of-yet unexplained Nord Stream gas pipeline explosion, which is still subject to investigation but is believed to have been intentional.

Sudan unrest
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“I do not take kindly to this happening and I regard this as a very important security issue.

“It affects the United Kingdom and our security in terms of energy.

“What advice can you give me, Madam Deputy Speaker, in getting the Secretary of State for Defence to come to this place and make a statement in view of this urgent situation?”

Deputy speaker Dame Rosie Winterton replied: “I am sure he knows that there are routes where he can request a statement to be made, but I have to tell him that at this point we have had no notice of a statement.

“Again his comments will have been heard and I am sure that they will be fed back to the Secretary of State.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Our priority will always be maintaining our national security.

“That is why we increased Royal Navy presence patrols after the Nord Stream incident and have invested £65 million in the first of our two Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance ships.”

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