British warship HMS Queen Elizabeth mocked in Russian warning | News | DW | 29.06.2017
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British warship HMS Queen Elizabeth mocked in Russian warning

Russia's military has mocked Britain's new aircraft carrier, calling it 'a large, convenient target' that should keep its distance from Moscow's warships. A UK minister had previously scorned a Russian aircraft carrier.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain's most advanced and biggest warship, embarked on its maiden voyage this week. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said at the launch that the Russians would look at it "with a little bit of envy."

Fallon then called Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, a "dilapidated" ship, prompting the Russian defense ministry to issue a stern warning to the British while issuing what appeared to be a veiled threat to their new ship.

Read: Russia's hypersonic missile ratchets up arms race

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Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday that Fallon's comments "prove a clear lack of naval knowledge."

"Unlike the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine missiles and especially Granit missiles to hit ships, the British aircraft carrier is nothing but a big, convenient target in the sea," he wrote.

A photo taken from a Norwegian surveillance aircraft shows Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters off the coast of Northern Norway (Reuters/Norwegian Royal Airforce/NTB Scanpix)

The Admiral Kuznetsov entered service in 1991 and is Russia's only aircraft carrier

"With this in mind, it is in the interest of the British Royal Navy not to show off the 'beauty' of its aircraft carrier in open waters any closer than from several hundred miles," Konashenkov remarked.

Escorted battleship

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, which relies on escort ships for protection, cost 3 billion pounds (3.4 billion euros or $3.8 billion) to build. 

It was an eight-year project to launch and along with its sister ship, the HMS Prince of Wales, it forms part of a UK defense program worth 6 billion pounds ($7.65 billion).

The HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to be fully operational by 2020, but that could be pushed back to 2026, Britain's National Audit Office said earlier this year.

'Ship of shame'

Fallon offended Russia's navy in January when he called their aircraft carrier "a ship of shame" as it passed through waters close to the English coast on its way back from bombing raids in Syria.

The Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov was involved in Moscow's air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but has suffered several high-profile mishaps.

The ship sailed back to Russia to undergo costly refurbishments at a port in the northern city of Murmansk.

Russia said this year it had developed a hypersonic missile that traveled twice the speed that Britain's new warship would be able to intercept.

aw/jm (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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