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Russia Flexes Muscle By Moving Warships Near Australia

Russia moves warships off Brisbane to "flex muscle" ahead of G20 summit.

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Defence expert James Brown from The Lowy Institute wrote "the flagship of the Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet, the guided missile cruiser, Moskva" is in the region and three other ships have been moved towards Australia to "flex a little muscle".

But Australia's Defence Department wants to assure the public it knows about them ahead of the G20 Leader's Summit in Brisbane this weekend.

"(We are) monitoring Russian naval vessels that are currently transiting through international waters to the north of Australia," it said in a statement.

"The movement of these vessels is entirely consistent with provisions under international law for military vessels to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters," the statement said.

It's the latest in the tit-for-tat between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Putin. The two leaders held a terse meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit, where Mr Abbott had promised to "shirtfront" the Russian leader.

Office of the Prime Minister

(Mr Abbott's Russian is assumed to be as limited as Mr Putin's English.)