UK politicians have expressed concern to Naval Technology that foreign powers could seek to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic after ‘unusually high’ Russian activity off UK waters lead the Royal Navy and NATO to shadow seven Russian vessels.

MP and Chair of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood said: “These unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and the North Sea demonstrate exactly why the UK must not neglect the real danger of foreign powers exploiting the coronavirus crisis for their own ends. The government must remain vigilant to all threats to our security, not just the imminent danger that this outbreak poses.

Taking our eye off the ball can have dire consequences. The Ministry of Defence must continue to horizon-scan and keep the nation safe so that we are not blindsided by future threats. Preparedness and expecting the unexpected are more important than ever.”

This concern was echoed by committee member MP Martin Docherty-Hughes who said that the uptick in activity showed that Russia could be looking to take advantage of the pandemic.

Docherty-Hughes said: “This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bad crisis for the Putin regime which will seek any sort of leverage, whether it be maritime operations in the North Sea or influence operations in Northern Italy, to seek to undermine liberal democracies and distract from the increasing crisis his own country’s underfunded healthcare system is under because of the virus.

“At a time when states and peoples in Europe should be coming together, my thoughts go out to ordinary Russian people whose government deems this sort of activity to be worthy of wasting time and resources on — though I am glad that the Royal Navy has been able to respond to these provocations.”

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