RUSSIA is the UK’s “number one threat” as its submarines encircle the British coastline, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned.

Russian naval vessels are usually detected in the North Sea or the English Channel, but now one has been observed in the Irish Sea. UK Defence Secretary Mr Wallace has claimed that a Russian Kilo-class submarine was spotted in the Irish Sea in 2020. Mr Wallace said that a Russian naval vessel has not been detected in the Irish Sea “for a very, very long time”.

He added: “It might have been for the first.”

It is the first time the UK Government has confirmed that Russian naval vessels have been observed in the Irish Sea.

The Defence Secretary has given the stark warning after Moscow sends its warships to gather intelligence in UK waters.

A Russian submarine was observed in the Irish Sea late last year and the Defence Secretary has declared that Moscow is “regularly” sending vessels to Britain.

Russia is sending its Naval vessels into UK waters

He said the UK’s maritime territory was being “regularly visited” by Russian ships.

Mr Wallace claimed that Moscow had been carrying out “a number of operations, deliberately at Britain”.

Approximately seven Russian naval ships and a submarine were spotted off the UK last year.

Since 2013, there have been at least 150 observations of Russian naval vessels in UK waters.

Putin's eye on Western Europe
Putin’s eye on Western Europe (Image: Express)

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin (Image: GETTY)

When a Russian vessel is detected the Royal Navy often sends a frigate or destroyer to intercept or monitor movements.

Mr Wallace speaking to the Daily Telegraph said: “We’re regularly visited by nosy Russian ships.

“We are also regularly visited by a number of Russian warships.

“We have tried de-escalation.

“We have tried many methods but at the moment until Russia changes its attitude, it’s quite hard to see where we’re going to go.

“This is a country that killed someone in Salisbury.”

The Defence Secretary was speaking as the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has begun its journey to the Far East.

Mr Wallace said that this displayed Britain was “back” as a global military force.