US Challenges Russian Claims in Sea of Japan



The US Navy issued a statement confirming the McCampbell, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer operating from US Naval Base Yokosuka in Japan, had taken part in the operation in Peter the Great Bay near the Russian naval port of Vladivostok, home to Vladimir Putin's Pacific Fleet.

A Russian warship and aircraft escorted an American destroyer in the Pacific Ocean, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow said on Thursday, after the U.S. Navy said it had sailed near contested waters in the Sea of Japan.

A USA guided-missile destroyer sailed provocatively close to waters claimed by Russian Federation in the Sea of Japan, reports say Wednesday.

The Navy considered the move one of its "freedom of navigation" operations, which are outlined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that Moscow has ratified, but Washington has not.

She explained that such operations "demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows". "That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe".

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 worldwide maritime law.

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Reports say at least 19 people were also hurt, but Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the number of injuries. Videos posted on Twitter, purportedly from Chabahar, showed thick smoke rising from the area.

The extraordinary operation is likely to stoke tensions between Washington and Moscow amid various geopolitical, diplomatic and military disputes.

Relations have turned particularly sour after USA president Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the Soviet-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The US has given Russian Federation 60 days to comply with the INF Treaty or it will no longer abide by the agreement, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

The operation on Wednesday follows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement on Tuesday that the US would pull out of the INF treaty unless Russian Federation addresses what he called Moscow's "flagrant disregard" of its terms.

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. has also protested the Russian detention of dozens of Ukrainian sailors transiting through the Kerch Strait last month.

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