US Challenges Russian Claims in Sea of Japan

A U.S. Navy destroyer Wednesday sailed into waters claimed by Russia in the Sea of Japan in a direct challenge to Moscow.

The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell “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,” U.S. Navy Lt. Rachel McMarr, a spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

The move is part of what the Navy calls “freedom of navigation operation,” which challenges nations that claim sovereignty over waters beyond the 12 nautical miles allowed by international maritime law.

Russia claims all of Peter the Great Bay, which is home to its Pacific fleet.

‘Wherever international law allows’

“U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis,” McMarr said. “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 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.

The McCampbell’s operation comes at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Black Sea voyage planned

CNN reported Wednesday that the Navy is also preparing to sail a ship into the Black Sea in response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

Last month, Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

CNN reported that the Pentagon had asked the State Department to inform Turkey that it planned to send a warship to the Black Sea.

The U.S. is required to notify Turkey under a treaty that governs the passage of military vessels from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report.

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