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UK Royal Navy escorts Russian military ships in routine operation in English Channel

An undated aerial photo made available by Britain's Ministry of Defence, Thursday, May 8, 2014 showing HMS Dragon, foreground, with the Russian aircraft carrier 'Admiral Kuznetsov' in the English Channel. The Royal Navy warship met and tracked a Russian task force group as it entered the English Channel in an operation that the Ministry of Defense repeatedly stressed was a routine matter. HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer, monitored the movement of the seven-strong Russian group 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.’ ’’ (AP Photo/Ministry of Defence)

An undated aerial photo made available by Britain's Ministry of Defence, Thursday, May 8, 2014 showing HMS Dragon, foreground, with the Russian aircraft carrier 'Admiral Kuznetsov' in the English Channel. The Royal Navy warship met and tracked a Russian task force group as it entered the English Channel in an operation that the Ministry of Defense repeatedly stressed was a routine matter. HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer, monitored the movement of the seven-strong Russian group 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.’ ’’ (AP Photo/Ministry of Defence)  (The Associated Press)

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.