Stand down everyone, the Russians aren't coming

WHAT’S SHE DOING: HMAS Sydney off the Sunshine Coast, taken at Alexandra Headland.
WHAT’S SHE DOING: HMAS Sydney off the Sunshine Coast, taken at Alexandra Headland. Warren Lynam

DESPITE media hysteria over Russian warships 'steaming' towards Australia, the Australian Defence Force says the Russian ships never entered Australian waters.

The ADF said in a statement on Thursday, that Australian vessels and aircraft have completed monitoring a Russian Surface Task Group operating in the Coral Sea to Australia's north.  

"The Russian ships did not enter Australian territorial waters and have now departed the Coral Sea,'' the ADF said.

The statement came after Channel 7 and News Ltd made much of Russian warships bearing down on Australia in the lead-up to Brisbane's G20 summit.

The ADF confirmed the flotilla included Russian Federation Ship (RFS) Varyag, a Slava class guided missile cruiser, RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov, a Udaloy class guided missile destroyer, and two support ships, Boris Butoma and Fotiy Krylov.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Binskin, said that the ADF monitoring activity was conducted professionally and was effective.

"We planned and conducted deliberate operations with Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft and monitored the flotilla with HMA ships Parramatta and Stuart," ACM Binskin said.

"HMAS Sirius was positioned to provide logistic support and HMAS Sydney was in the south Queensland area to support G20 and assist with this activity if required.

"Russia declared its intention for vessels to travel to southern areas of the Pacific Ocean and their movement was consistent with the provisions under international law for military vessels to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters,'' the ADF said.

ACM Binskin said the activity was completed professionally by both the Australian and Russian personnel.

"We made periodic radio contact with the Russian flotilla and this communication was conducted professionally and courteously by all parties and was consistent with normal maritime communication procedures," ACM Binskin said.

As a matter of normal practice the ADF maintains an awareness of maritime activity in the approaches to Australia and regularly undertakes maritime surveillance patrols in these approaches. 

The ADF monitored the vessels in accordance with international law.

"This activity is consistent with the Russian Federation Navy's previous maritime movements ahead of major international events,'' the ADF said.

In 2009, Russian naval vessels were deployed to South East Asia for the APEC Conference in Singapore and in 2010 they were deployed to coincide with former Russian President Medvedev's visit to San Francisco.

Topics:  editors picks hmas sydney russia warships

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