A British warship on Tuesday conducted a joint exercise with the Israeli navy before docking in the port of Haifa for a visit that comes at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. Both countries described the visit by the HMS Bulwark as routine and a reflection of deepening security ties between the two nations. It is the first British warship to dock in Haifa since 2009.

But its arrival comes weeks after Russia’s deployment of its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to the region, off the coast of Syria. Russia has backed the Syrian government in its civil war, and the Russian ship has been used as a base for airstrikes on rebel targets. READ MORE