“Cobra, the Government’s emergency security committee, met several times as the MV Alaed approached British waters.
With the United States placing pressure on Britain to halt the vessel, the prime minister was regularly briefed on the situation. It is understood that he was presented with several options including a military seizure of the ship.
Avoiding a confrontation that could have damaged already strained ties with Russia, the government instead took action to ensure that the Alaed’s insurance cover was withdrawn.
The ship, which Western officials said was carrying a military cargo including Hind-D Mi-25 helicopter gunships and anti-aircraft defence systems, changed course about 50 miles off the north coast of Scotland. It is now showing that its next port of call is Murmansk, according to the UK National Maritime Information Centre.
The ship’s owners, the Russian operator Femco, denied it was ferrying arms to Syria”.