What Happened: The USS McCampbell has conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Sea of Japan through territory that is partly claimed by Russian Federation in Peter the Great Bay, The Japan Times reported December 6.
US Navy sends ship to Russia's Far East, reportedly prepares to enter Black Sea An American destroyer sailed off the Russian coast, near the Pacific Fleet base in Vladivostok, in a first such stunt since the Cold War.
Nor did the Navy leave any ambiguity about why the USS McCampbell made the journey. In a typical rah-rah fashion, the fleet's spokesperson, Lieutenant Rachel McMarr, claimed that the ship sailed there to "challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims".
Under global law, a nation's territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from the coast. "These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".
The US warship did not come closer than 100km to Russia's territorial waters and was monitored by the Russian Pacific Fleet's anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs. According to her, it is not only Japan sea but also "other places" around the world.
"Russia's unprovoked assault on Ukrainian naval vessels within the Black Sea close to the Kerch Strait is a harmful escalation in a sample of more and more provocative and threatening exercise", the Pentagon stated in a press release, explaining the maneuver. He said the latest USA operation in the Sea of Japan may indicate increasing United States concern about Russia's posturing in the Pacific.
Lt McMarr said the freedom of navigation operations are "not about any one country, nor are they about current events".
The U.S. Navy has conducted several such operations in the South China Sea, sailing past islands claimed by China near Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands. Thus, Moscow claims in areas that were separated by more than 12 miles from the Russian coast.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conference in Brussels Tuesday, said the alliance "will collectively develop [a] set of responses that demonstrate to Russians this behavior is unacceptable".
It also comes as the United States and Russia clash over a number of issues, including accusations by Washington that Moscow has violated terms of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and USA complaints over recent Russian military operations near Ukraine.