Russian Forces (Indian Ocean)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th June 1969.

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Photo of Mr Julian Ridsdale Mr Julian Ridsdale , Harwich 12:00 am, 25th June 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the recent deployment of Russian forces in the Indian Ocean; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

Over the last six months the number of Russian warships in the area has fluctuated from six to the present level of one.

Photo of Mr Julian Ridsdale Mr Julian Ridsdale , Harwich

Would the hon. Gentleman comment on the recent Russian movement off the Seychelles reported recently in the Daily Telegraph? What action has been taken, up to 1971, to protect British interests in the Indian Ocean?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

I understand that there has been movement of Russian ships, as the hon. Member said, off the Seychelles and that they have sited buoys on the high seas. Since these were the high seas, they required no permission and could not be prohibited.

Photo of Mr Frederic Harris Mr Frederic Harris , Croydon North West

Does the hon. Gentleman fully understand and appreciate that the Russian trawlers in the Indian Ocean are considered to be disguised supply ships servicing Russian submarines in the area?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

I do not think that it would be in the interests of security for me to give details of our knowledge of this matter.