The US deployed four Navy destroyers in response to Russian and Chinese vessels operating near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, which stretch far into the northern Pacific Ocean.
The incident occurred last week when 11 Chinese and Russian warships were conducting joint patrols near the Aleutian Islands. It’s not clear how close the vessels came to Alaska’s territory.
US Northern Command said the vessels stayed in international waters, which means they did not enter US territorial waters, which stretch 12 nautical miles from the US coastline.
“Air and maritime assets under our commands conducted operations to assure the defense of the United States and Canada. The patrol remained in international waters and was not considered a threat,” Northern Command told the Wall Street Journal.
While the US insists it has the right to patrol sensitive waters near China and Russia, such as the Taiwan Strait and the Black Sea, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan (R) blasted the patrol as “another reminder that we have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Beijing and Moscow.”
Sullivan said he was happy that the US Navy deployed destroyers to monitor the Chinese and Russian vessels and said the response to a similar patrol that took place last year was not adequate.
“Last summer the Chinese and Russian navies conducted a similar operation off the coast of Alaska. Given that our response was tepid, I strongly encouraged senior military leaders to be ready with a much more robust response should such another joint Chinese/Russian naval operation occur off our coast,” Sullivan said.
For their part, China said the patrol was not directed at the US. “According to the annual cooperation plan between the Chinese and Russian militaries, naval vessels of the two countries have recently conducted joint maritime patrols in relevant waters in the western and northern Pacific Ocean. This action is not targeted at any third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the US.
The Russian and Chinese militaries have been increasing cooperation in recent years as both nations have faced similar pressure from the US and its allies.
In recent years, the US has been encouraging allies to increase their presence in the South China Sea to challenge China’s claims to the waters. During the lead-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US and NATO were very active in the Black Sea. In June 2021, a British warship sailed about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Crimea.
This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.