Royal Navy frigate HMS St Albans intercepted and escorted the warship, Admiral Gorshkov, through areas of UK interest on Christmas Day.

Ministers say the latest move comes amid an upsurge in Russian units transiting UK waters during the festive period – after HMS Tyne was called to escort a separate Russian intelligence-gathering ship on Christmas Eve.

In a stark warning to foreign aggressors, Mr Williamson said: “I will not hesitate in defending our waters or tolerate any form of aggression.

“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people, and our national interests.”

Military chiefs say there is a “pressing need” to protect UK interests “close to home, in the air, above and below the waves”.

Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, Chris Ansell said: “Our trade, economy and information networks depend on the sea, and this operation demonstrates the Royal Navy’s commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake short notice operations.

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