Russian Navy Escorted US Warship Near Contested Pacific Waters

Sergio Conner
December 7, 2018

The US Navy sailed the guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell near contested waters in the Sea of Japan Wednesday, an action that is bound to irk Russian Federation.

Vladivostok, in Russia's far southeast, is home to the country's Pacific Fleet.

Russian Federation does not have legitimate claims to the waters 12 nautical miles beyond its coastline under global law, a spokesperson for the US Pacific Fleet said.

"We reserve the right to operate freely in accordance with worldwide laws and norms", he also said. "That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe", her statement declared, The Hill reported.

"Currently, the crew of "USS Campbell" is "demonstrating" its valor from more than 400km away from Russia's territorial waters, in the central part of the Sea of Japan," the military sarcastically remarked.

The Navy official said the operation was not meant to single out Russian Federation, but is part of a comprehensive approach by the service to keep worldwide sea lanes open.

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The US Navy has not conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the area since 1987 during the height of the Cold War, a naval source told CNN.

The Defense Department regularly conducts such "freedom of navigation" exercises, but it usually does so in the South China Sea in challenges to claims by China.

Last week, the US Navy sailed the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville near contested islands in the South China Sea, an operation that drew an immediate diplomatic protest from Beijing. It comes amid renewed tensions between the United States and Russian Federation in the Black Sea, where Russian Federation seized multiple Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait last month, and as the two sides trade accusations over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US will suspend its obligations under the treaty in 60 days, and he accused Russian Federation of "cheating" on the deal.

The United States has also objected to Russia's seizing of three Ukrainian vessels it accused of having trespassed on Russian waters in the Black Sea last month. A spokesman for Putin said in response that a hoped-for U.S. -Russia summit in Washington "is now out of the question".

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