The Russian carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov is heading to Syria as part of a battle fleet (Reuters)
Russia on Wednesday accused a Dutch submarine of trying to monitor its aircraft carrier and escort vessels in the Mediterranean, denouncing such manoeuvres as “dangerous”.
According to the Russian defence ministry, the Severomorsk and the Vice-Admiral Kulakov, two of its anti-submarine ships, had “spotted a submarine from the Dutch navy… which tried to approach the Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier group in the eastern Mediterranean.”
The Dutch submarine, which was detected by anti-submarine helicopters, was located around 20km from the Russian warships, it said.
“The vessels followed its manoeuvres for more than an hour and forced it to leave the deployment area of the aircraft carrier’s group,” a ministry statement said.
“These clumsy attempts to carry out dangerous manoeuvres in the immediate proximity of a group of Russian vessels could have had grave navigational consequences,” it said.
Russian warships “regularly” detect Nato submarines on their way to the Mediterranean, the ministry said.
Contacted by AFP, the Dutch defence ministry had no immediate comment on its naval operations.
In recent months, Russia has reinforced its naval presence in the Mediterranean as part of its intervention in Syria where it has been conducting an aerial campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia also has an airbase in Hmeimim just south of the Syrian city of Latakia from which it has carried out air strikes since the start of its military intervention in September 2015, as well as a naval facility in the port city of Tartus.