A Royal Navy warship sent to Ukraine will send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the British Defense Minister.
HMS Echo was sent to the Black Sea earlier this month after Russia confiscated three ships belonging to the Ukrainian Navy and its crews.
Minister of Defense Gavin Williamson visited the ship in the port of Odessa.
He said the British ship's presence showed support for Ukraine in the face of increasing Russian aggression. [1
NATO has recently intensified its operations in the Black Sea with increased patrols in the warship.
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Between Russia and Ukraine, there are increasing tensions over access to the area from the Crimea.
The Crimea belonged to an independent Ukraine, but was annexed by Ru ssia in 2014. The Ukrainians say that the Crimea remains their territory.
Mr Williamson visited HMS Echo shortly before the Christmas visit, after docking in Odessa on Friday
He said that the ship was there to send a message to President Putin that Britain is in solidarity with Ukraine.
"What we say to Russia, what we say to President Putin – they can not continue to act with no attention or respect international law or international standards," he said.
The Minister of Defense made a meeting with the families of the 24 Ukrainian sailors, who are still being held and are now awaiting trial in Moscow.
HMS Echo is not expected to sail through the Strait of Kerch near the Crimea – near the point where the Russian Navy rammed, bombed and confiscated the three ships of the Ukrainian Navy in November.
Moscow has described the ship of the Royal Navy serves to collect data about the sea – as a spy ship.