This is the first sight of one of a flotilla of Russian warships sailing through the English Channel, as Downing Street denied claims Britain appeared “weak”.
The massive aircraft carrier, thought to be the Admiral Kuznetsov, can be seen belching smoke as it passes by Britain in a move seen as provocative.
It was so close it could be seen from The White Cliffs of Dover.
But Downing Street has denied Russia’s show of strength showed how Britain was “weak”.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “I would reject suggestions that the Russians feel we’re too weak. Clearly we are not weak at all.”
He added the fleet was due to exit the channel “later today”.
The massive aircraft carrier, thought to be the Admiral Kuznetsov, can be seen belching smoke as it passes dangerously close to Britain
Two other Russian corvettes, travelling north towards the UK from the direction of Portugal, are also set to be watched by the Navy
Tensions between the UK and Russia are at breaking point
Asked if monitoring by British ships would continue he said: “We would only mark them through territorial waters”.
Tensions between the UK and Russia are at breaking point with prime minister Theresa May having recently blasted Putin for “undermining the West’s efforts” to provide a political settlement in Syria.
The ship is being monitored by British warships.
At the same time, two other Russian corvettes, which are travelling north towards the UK from the direction of Portugal, are also set to be watched by the Navy.
Two Royal Navy destroyers have been sent to meet them with a Ministry of Defence spokesman confirming it planned to “man-mark them every step of the way”.
Warship HMS Duncan sailed from Portsmouth on Tuesday to monitor the Kuznetsov task group, which is currently heading south from the Norwegian Sea towards the North Sea.
HMS Richmond has also escorted the group in the Norwegian Sea further north of the UK between Iceland and Norway.
And HMS Dragon is also due to sail to meet two Russian corvettes travelling north towards the UK from the direction of Portugal.
The ship is being monitored by British warships
The Russian warships route to Syria, which cuts through the English Channel
Defence of HMS Duncan (centre), observing Russian Kirov Class Battlecruiser
It is understood that shadowing ships is regular business for the Royal Navy, who have been supported by Royal Air Force surveillance aircraft on this occasion.
Navy ships will continue to escort the Russian task group and provide a visible presence south through the North Sea and English Channel as the Russian fleet sail through and carry out their flying operations, the MoD said.
The UK is working alongside NATO partners to monitor the warships passing the UK this week.
All the while tensions are ratcheting up as Theresa May told European leaders they must act to stop Russia’s appalling behaviour in Syria, amid fears some countries are dragging their feet.
The aircraft carrier has at least two fighter jets on board
Tensions rise as Royal Navy destroyers sent to meet Russian warships heading towards Britain
The Royal Navy’s Type 42 destroyer steams alongside Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
The Prime Minister urged the EU to send a “robust united message” to Moscow over its bombing campaign supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
At a Brussels summit, Mrs May said the current assault on Aleppo was “particularly horrific” and Russia’s actions had “undermined the West’s efforts” to provide a political settlement.