- The US Navy sent a warship to challenge Russia’s maritime claims in the East Sea/Sea of Japan on Wednesday amid rising tensions between the military superpowers.
- The freedom-of-navigation was similar to those that the US regularly conducts in the South China Sea, often provoking China.
- Russia and the US are currently at odds over the fate of the 1987 INF Treaty and recent Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The US Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer Wednesday to challenge Russia in the Sea of Japan.
The USS McCambell “sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other nations,” US Pacific Fleet spokesperson US Navy Lt. Rachel McMarr told CNN.
The Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet is headquartered in the eastern port city of Vladivostok, located in Peter the Great Bay, the largest gulf in the East Sea/Sea of Japan.
Pacific Fleet stressed to CNN that Wednesday’s freedom-of-navigation operation (FONOP) was “not about any one country, nor are they about current events,” adding, “These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe.”
The US Navy regularly conducts FONOPS in the South China Sea, much to China’s displeasure. Last week, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancelorsville “sailed near the Paracel Islands to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”
Two days later, the US Navy sent two warships – the destroyer USS Stockdale and the underway replenishment oiler USNS Pecos – through the Taiwan Strait. Both the South China Sea FONOP and the Taiwan Strait transit, which occurred just days before a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump, drew criticism from Beijing.
China has also repeatedly criticised US Air Force bomber overflights in the region.
Tensions between Moscow and Washington are on the rise in the wake of apparent Russian aggression in the Sea of Azov, where Russian vessels rammed and fired on Ukrainian vessels before capturing the ships and their crews, and US plans to withdraw from the Cold War Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a response to Russian violations.
NATO has accusedRussia of developing weapons in violation of the treaty, and the State Department has warned Russia that it has 60 days to return to compliance or the treaty is finished.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that if the US withdraws from the 1987 treaty, Russia will begin developing the very nuclear weapons prohibited by it.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.