The Pentagon and the Russian Defense Ministry exchanged for the USS John S on Tuesday. . McCain sailed through a disputed stretch of Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan that the Kremlin has claimed since the days of the Soviet Union.
The Russian destroyer, who threatened to ram the McCain when it benefited from the sovereignty-intensive freedom of navigation, had similar close contact with another U last year. . S.. . Ship in the Philippine Sea.
The U. . S.. . The Navy routinely conducts « FONOPs » in the South China Sea, where Washington and nations in East Asia have challenged China’s expansive territorial claims. But that week’s mission in the bay sparked an unusually sharp exchange.
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« These waters are not Russia’s territorial sea », U. . S.. . Navy officials said in a statement. “The United States disagrees with Russia’s claim that Peter the Great is a ‘historic bay’ under international law. ”
TASS, the official Russian news agency, said the McCain violated the territorial waters of Russia by going more than a mile across the sea border. The Russian Navy submarine destroyer Admiral Vinogradov notified the U.. . S.. . Ship to which it was exposed “to be driven out of the sovereign waters of the country in a pile-driving maneuver. ”
The Russian Navy claimed that Admiral Vinogradov « stopped » the McCain, which then returned to international waters. U. . S.. . Navy officials called the Russian statement « false. ”
“USS John S. . McCain was not « driven » from any nation’s territory. McCain conducted this FONOP in accordance with international law and continued to conduct normal operations in international waters. “U. . S.. . Officials said.
The same Russian ship was involved in a similar close conversation with the USS Chancellorsville, a guided missile cruiser operating in the Philippine Sea, in June 2019. According to the U. . S.. . Marine, the Admiral Vinogradov came up from behind, then suddenly accelerated and moved to the right of the U. . S.. . Ship when it was recovering helicopter. The Russian destroyer was 50 to 100 feet from the American ship.
« This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to fully re-engine and maneuver all engines to avoid a collision, » U. . S.. . Navy officials said. “We consider Russia’s actions during this interaction to be unsafe and unprofessional. ”
Russia denied that its ship was responsible for the near-collision and told TASS that the USS Chancellorsville suddenly changed course and crossed in front of Admiral Vinogradov in an « emergency maneuver ». ”
Brent Sadler, Senior Fellow on Naval Warfare and Advanced Technology at the Heritage Foundation, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the incident reflected Russia’s desire to show the U.. S.. . They are also a Pacific power and, like China, ready to defend themselves against the traditional dominant position of the U.. S.. . Marine in the region.
« The Russians and the Chinese will also renew their strategic partnership, » said Mr.. . Said Sadler. « I’m pretty sure there is a connection there. ”
The U. . S.. . regularly conducts free navigation missions in the western Pacific to dispute excessive claims by several countries, particularly China, in recent years. Analysts say the exercises are critical to upholding the international rule of law in the face of growing authoritarian challenges.
« Such excessive claims pose a threat to anyone who relies on freedom of navigation and Washington should seek to assemble the largest possible coalition of allies and partners to defend a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, » said Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of the Center for Military and Political Power at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
There have been more and more incidents with the Russian Navy. In January 2020, an unidentified Russian naval ship of the USS Farragut « aggressively » approached during routine operations in the North Arabian Sea. The Farragut sounded five brief explosions, the international sea signal of the risk of collision, and ordered the Russian ship to change course.
« The Russian ship initially refused, but ultimately changed course and the two ships opened up a gap between them, » U. . S.. . Navy officials said.
Brad Martin, a military analyst with RAND Corporation, said there was no evidence that the USS McCain was operating on internationally recognized Russian territory. He said that these dangerous incidents would not be decided by a Russian captain on his own initiative.
« This is a policy statement. They want to point out that they are a great power and cannot be overrun. « . Said Martin. « It’s more theater than anything. ”
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