On October 15, a Russian warship thwarted an attempt by a US Navy destroyer to trespass into Russia’s territorial seas in the Sea of Japan, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. Hours later, the US Indo-Pacific Command refuted the Russian claim, saying the encounter between the ships was “safe and professional.”
The event occurred during joint naval drills between Russia and China in the area, and it followed earlier dangerously near contacts between Russian and Western warships. It appears to reflect Moscow’s determination to raise the stakes in order to prevent the US and its allies from deploying ships on operations near Russian waters at a time when relations between the two countries are at an all-time low.
According to the Ministry, the Russian navy’s Admiral Tributs destroyer approached the USS Chafee closely in order to chase it out of an area in Russian seas that had been declared off-limits to commerce due to gunnery drills as part of Russia-China manoeuvres.
According to the report, the Russian vessel approached the US Navy after it had ignored multiple instructions to depart the region in the Peter the Great Gulf. The Ministry of Defense claimed that after making “an effort to cross the Russian sea border,” the US destroyer reversed direction and rushed away when the two ships were only 60 metres (66 yards) apart. The Chafee was conducting routine operations in international seas when the Russian destroyer got within roughly 65 yards of the Chafee as it was prepared for flying operations, according to a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command.
Despite the fact that Russia had issued a Notice to Airmen and Mariners instructing them to avoid the area until later in the day, the notice was not in place when the ships collided.
According to the US statement, the USS Chafee operated in accordance with international law and custom at all times.
Other recent maritime incidents, according to Russian troops, include British destroyer HMS Dragon who allegedly entered Russian waters near Crimea in October 2020, and US destroyer USS John S. McCain allegedly crossed the Russian border into Peter the Great Gulf in the Sea of Japan in November.
Following these incidents, Russia has denied allegations made by the United States and the UK that their warships were exercising the right to “enter without charge” under international maritime law.