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US sends destroyer to Sea of Japan, near Russia’s Far East

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – The United States has sent a guided-missile destroyer near the contested waters of the Sea of Japan, off the Russian coast.

The US Navy USS McCampbell on Wednesday sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay, near the Russian Pacific Fleet base in Vladivostok, in a first such stunt since 1987 — the peak of Cold War tensions with the former Soviet Union.

Lieutenant Rachel McMarr, a spokesperson for the US Pacific Fleet, said in a statement that the warship, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, went near the bay to challenge what she called “Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea” that she said America was entitled to.

Washington calls such stunts Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP), saying that they are conducted to challenge nations that claim sovereignty over waters beyond 12 nautical miles of their coasts.

Moscow claims the entire Peter the Great Bay as its own. The Bay was named after the first emperor of Russia, and is dotted with bases of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

The US navy is also preparing to send another warship into the Black Sea in the near future, a move that could worsen the tensions even further.

The CNN reported that the State Department had already notified Turkey of Washington’s intent to dispatch the warship through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

The report, citing three unnamed US officials, added that the move was a response to “Russia’s actions” against Ukrainian vessels.

Tensions over Ukraine escalated on November 25, when Russian border patrols fired at three Ukrainian ships and then seized them along with their sailors because of illegal entry into Russian waters in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The incident took place near Crimea, a former Ukrainian territory on the Black Sea that joined Russia in a referendum in March 2014.

The seizure of the Ukrainian ships sparked a fresh row between Moscow and Washington and prompted US President Donald Trump to cancel a planned meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.

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