A British warship was dispatched to escort a Russian naval vessel as it passed by U.K. territorial waters on Christmas Day, continuing a British tradition of making political statements in such a manner.

The HMS St Albans, a Royal Navy frigate, was sent to intercept and escort Russia’s Admiral Gorshkov, a warship of the same basic class and among the Russian Navy’s newest military assets, as it traveled through the North Sea close to Britain’s exclusive economic zone. According to a statement released by the British Ministry of Defense, this passing is just a part of a recent uptick in Russian naval activity in the region.

I will not hesitate in defending our waters or tolerate any form of aggression,” said British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson in a statement announcing the holiday maneuvers. “Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people, and our national interests.”

Despite the security value inherent to escorting Russian ships as they pass by British waters, these escort missions are as much about politics as they are about defense. Russian warships regularly pass by U.K. territorial waters as they travel from Northern Russian ports to the open ocean or the Mediterranean. The British Government is, of course, aware that the Russian Navy’s proximity to their territory is based on necessity (and perhaps a bit of theatrical posturing), but also recognize the public relations opportunities presented by these frequent pass-by voyages.