Diplomatic tensions between London and Moscow continue to escalate as the countries exchange harsh remarks over Russia's military presence near the UK coast.
Ruslan Balbek, the deputy of Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, criticized the remarks of Ben Wallace, the British Defense Secretary, who described Russia as the UK’s "number one adversary threat" after a Russian submarine was spotted off Britain's west coast.
"We don't share common borders, not the most extensive trade ties - where do we pose a threat to Great Britain?" RIA Novosti quoted Balbek as saying on Sunday. "That's all the fantasies of British politicians who are mentally very far away from the English people."
The Russian deputy said he believes that the UK has no objective reasons for such accusatory statements, and described the matter as "something personal." Balbek also accused Britain of the actions that are considered as an attack against Russia's state sovereignty, including interference in its internal affairs.
"These gentlemen did everything to weaken our country, so who is the greatest threat to whom needs to be redirected," Balbek added.
In his exclusive interview with British broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph, Wallace said that Russian submarines are constantly circling the UK’s coastline, and accused Moscow of carrying out "a number of operations deliberately aimed at Britain."
For the first time in many years, a Russian Kilo-class 877 Paltus submarine, also known as Kilo in NATO reporting name, was spotted last year in the Irish Sea, Wallace said.
Surrounded by Scotland on the north, England on the east, Wales on the south, and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on the west, the Irish Sea separates Ireland from Great Britain. The Irish Sea is a strategic transportation route between Britain and Ireland. It also facilitates trade, shipping, commercial fishing and power generation.
While confirmed sightings of Russian vessels are rare, at least 150 occasions of Russian vessels have been reportedly detected by the UK since 2013 and spotted in the English Channel and North Sea.
"We have tried de-escalation, we have tried methods but at the moment until Russia changes its attitude, it's quite hard to see where we're going to go," the Defense Secretary said, recalling the Salisbury incident.
Moscow and London have been at odds since 2018 when Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in the city of Salisbury in the UK using a Russian-made nerve agent called Novichok. The British government immediately pointed the finger at Russia, accusing the Kremlin of the attempted murder. Moscow denied all accusations and diplomatic relations between the UK and Russia suffered as a result of the incident.
Wallace's interview came as the Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth departed from Portsmouth for Asia on Saturday evening for a 28-week operational deployment. He told The Telegraph that the deployment showed Britain was back as a global military force and ready to show its military power thousands of miles away from home.