HC Deb 25 June 1969 vol 785 cc1493-4
29. Mr. Ridsdale

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.

Mr. John Morris

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

Mr. Ridsdale

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?

Mr. Morris

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.

Mr. Frederic Harris

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?

Mr. Morris

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