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Britain Scrambled A Destroyer To Challenge A Russian Warship Last Month

It took 24 hours to reach the Russian vessel, which was was just 30 miles from Scotland's coast, the Mail on Sunday reports.

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The MoS has revealed a fully-armed British destroyer was scrambled days before Christmas after a Russian ship was detected in the waters off Scotland.

The approach apparently triggered a secret Navy and Air Force operation co-ordinated by the military at the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) bunker at Northwood...The Russian ship waited in the Moray Forth, a stretch of water that flows into Loch Ness, for Defender to arrive, as if her captain were recording the Navy's response times.

When HMS Defender arrived 24 hours later, a stand-off ensued.

Radio messages were exchanged between the boat crews before the Russian vessel retreated. The MoS reports that Defender's 190-strong crew remained at battle stations throughout the confrontation.

It follows a similar incident in December 2011 when several ships from the Baltic Fleet arrived 30 miles off the Moray Firth.

A Russian military news agency claimed the fleet was en route to Syria and took shelter in the Moray Firth when faced with deteriorating weather conditions, but some ­commentators ­believe that the country is ­testing Britain's response times to such an incursion.

The MoD has refused to comment on the incident.

Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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