Russia's Defense Ministry says a U.S. Navy destroyer has left Russian waters in the Far East after being warned it might be rammed.
The ministry said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain, which the United States said was "challenging Russia's excessive maritime claims," ventured 2 kilometers into Russian territorial waters in the Peter the Great Gulf, near the eastern Russian port city of Vladivostok, before turning back after receiving a warning from the Admiral Vinogradov vessel.
"The Pacific Fleet's Admiral Vinogradov anti-submarine destroyer used an international communication channel to warn the foreign vessel that such actions were unacceptable and the violator could be driven out of the country's territorial waters in a ramming maneuver. After the warning was issued and Admiral Vinogradov changed its course, the USS John S. McCain destroyer returned to international waters," the ministry said in the statement.
A statement by the U.S. Pacific Fleet gave no details of the incident but said the U.S. vessel was asserting its "navigational rights and freedoms" in the vicinity of the Peter the Great Gulf.
"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," it added.
The Soviet Union declared the area as part of its territorial waters in 1984, but the United States does not recognize it as Russian. Vladivostok is the home port for the Russian Pacific Fleet.
Such incidents have been reported by Russia often in recent years after ties with the United States and European Union worsened following Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 and its support for separatists in Ukraine's east.
U.S. and NATO military jets also have routinely intercepted Russian surveillance and strategic-bomber aircraft near NATO-member countries' and U.S. airspace over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Most incidents are routine and considered nonthreatening.
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