The United States on Saturday denied carrying out military operations in Russian territorial waters, after Moscow said a Russian navy ship chased a US submarine in Russian Pacific waters.
Russia has accused Washington of violating international law and creating a national security threat over the incident at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine.
According to the Interfax news agency, the Russian Defense Ministry said a Russian navy vessel chased a US submarine into Russian Pacific waters after the submarine ignored the ship’s orders to to surface.
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“There is no truth to Russian claims about our operations in their territorial waters,” Captain Kyle Raines, a U.S. military spokesman, said in a statement.
“I will not comment on the precise location of our submarines, but we fly, sail and operate safely in international waters,” the statement added.
It is common for the United States to monitor military activities carried out by other countries without having to enter their territorial waters.
The crew of Marshal Shaposhnikov’s frigate used “corresponding means” to get the submarine out of Russian waters, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
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He said he called the US Defense Attaché about the incident.
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The submarine was spotted near the Kuril Islands early Saturday while Russia was conducting naval exercises with its Pacific Fleet and it was ordered to surface immediately, the Russian ministry said.
He said the order was ignored by the US submarine’s crew, leading the Russian frigate to take unspecified action to get it to leave.
“The US submarine … left Russian territorial waters at maximum speed,” the Defense Ministry said.
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It’s unclear exactly where Russia claimed the incident took place, but part of the Kuril Islands chain is claimed by Japan and the territorial dispute over some of the islands dates back to when the Soviet Union of the time seized them at the end of World War II.
Russia’s defense minister spoke by phone with his American counterpart on Saturday as the United States and other Western countries warned that war in Ukraine could break out at any moment.
US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin also spoke for an hour by phone later in the day to discuss Ukraine, but according to the Kremlin, the submarine incident was not brought up.
-Report by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and Idrees Ali in Washington; Written by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Helen Popper and Sandra Maler