British officials say two Russian warships will be escorted by the Royal Navy as they transit the English Channel.

Official said Saturday two warships, a support tanker and an ocean-going tug, will be watched by the HMS Sutherland as they pass through the Channel. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the Navy "maintains a vigilant watch" to keep Britain safe.

The Russian passage comes at a time of increased tensions between Britain and Russia that saw a planned ministerial meeting for this week called off because of disagreements over Syria and other matters.

Officials have reported an increase in Russian fighter jets probing British defenses in recent years by flying close to British airspace.

The Navy described the escort provided by the Sutherland as "routine."