On Tuesday, Russia’s defense ministry claimed that one of its warships chased a US Navy destroyer out of Russia’s Pacific territorial waters.
The Admiral Vinogradov, an anti-submarine destroyer in Russia’s Pacific Fleet, sent a warning to the US ship and threatened to “use a ramming maneuver to drive the intruder out of its territorial waters,” according to a statement from Russia’s defense ministry.
After the incident, the USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, retreated back into international waters.
The US Navy confirmed the incident in a statement describing the incident as the latest “freedom of navigation operation,” in which the US military challenges boundaries that they deem to be “illegitimate territorial claims.”
The American warship had been operating for several days in the Sea of Japan before the incident, and it was being tracked by the Russian military as it came closer to the contested region.
The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain had “asserted navigational rights” in the area “by challenging Russia’s excessive maritime claims.”
The statement explained that the Soviet Union unjustly claimed territory in 1984, and Russia has continued to maintain that the territory is theirs.
USS John McCain entered Peter the Great Bay off Vladivostok earlier today. #Russia claims this as territorial waters (since 1984), a claim US does not recognize. US Navy periodically conducts challenges like this to assert navigational rights in international waters. pic.twitter.com/c6hjR3AANA
— Steven Pifer (@steven_pifer) November 24, 2020
The statement read:
In 1984, the U.S.S.R declared a system of straight baselines along its coasts, including a straight baseline enclosing Peter the Great Bay as claimed internal waters. This 106-nautical mile (nm) closing line is inconsistent with the rules of international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention to enclose the waters of a bay. By drawing this closing line, the U.S.S.R. attempted to claim more internal waters – and territorial sea farther from shore – than it is entitled to claim under international law. Russia has continued the U.S.S.R. claim. By conducting this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are not Russia’s territorial sea and that the United States does not acquiesce in Russia’s claim that Peter the Great is a “historic bay” under international law.
A Russian warship chased a US Navy destroyer from waters in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, the Kremlin says.
US military officials say the destroyer had been conducting a "freedom of navigation" operation. https://t.co/zEmg4Wu5HK
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 24, 2020
However, it is important to note that this territory has been the same for over 25 years and has only just recently become a problem as tensions continue to escalate between the two superpowers. As the US Navy says later in its statement, these types of problems don’t happen between two countries that are on good terms.
In the past few years, diplomacy between the two countries has deteriorated and has spawned a new cold war. Many of the conflicts to take place between the United States and Russia happen through proxy wars in places like Syria or Libya. In fact, it is these two wars that have largely contributed to the hostility seen between those two nations today.
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) November 24, 2020