Russia says it chased U.S. warship away from its territorial waters

Moment Russian warship chases American destroyer the USS Chafee away from its waters in the Sea of Japan for ‘violating international rules’ in tense standoff

  • Video shows how Russian warship closed in on USS Chafee on Friday in the Sea of Japan
  • The Russian defense ministry said the US guided missile destroyer was warned to change course
  • The Russian vessel then proceeded to oust ‘the intruder from Russian territorial waters,’ the ministry said
  • It happened with US-Russia relations at a low and with joint Russian and China naval drills in the area
  • Local media reported that the US military attache was summoned to the Russian ministry of defence
  • It is the latest close encounter between Russian and Western vessels as Moscow flexes its muscles

Russia claimed one of its warships on Friday forced a U.S. Navy destroyer to abandon what it said was an attempt to intrude into its territorial waters in the Sea of Japan. 

Video released by the Russian ministry of defense appears to show the moment its anti-submarine vessel Admiral Tributs closed to within 60 yards of the U.S. destroyer USS Chafee in Peter the Great Gulf, to the south of Vladivostok.

But the account was disputed by U.S. officials who said the interaction was ‘safe and professional,’ according to Fox News.

The incident came while Russia and China conducted joint naval drills in the area, and is the latest in a series of close encounters between Russian and Western warships. 

Relations between Russia and the U.S. are at their lowest point since the Cold War.  

The Russian defence ministry said the Admiral Tributs radioed a warning to the USS Chafee to say she was ‘in an area closed to navigation due to exercises with artillery fire.’

The U.S. destroyer failed to change course and instead raised flags indicating it was preparing to launch a helicopter from its deck, meaning it was unable to change course and speed, the ministry said.

Pictured in this video screen grab is the guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), which has been deployed in the Sea of Japan, near Russia’s territorial waters, for a few days

The USS Chafee responded to requests to change course by raising flags indicating it was about to launch a helicopter, according to the Russian defense ministry

The Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs pictured in Zolotoy Rog, or the Golden Horn Bay, during a parade in the Sea of Japan

‘Acting within the framework of the international rules of navigation, the Admiral Tributs set a course for ousting the intruder from Russian territorial waters,’ it said.  

USS Chafee changed course when the two ships were less than 65 yards apart. 

It said the episode lasted less than 50 minutes and denounced what it said was U.S. ‘crude violation’ of rules on averting ships collisions.

The Pentagon referred a request for comment to the U.S. Navy which did not immediately respond. 

Diplomatic fallout followed. The RIA news agency reported that the defense ministry summoned the U.S. military attache in response.  

The attache was told about ‘unprofessional actions’ of the crew of the destroyer Chafee, said the report. 

It was the second time in four months Russia has said it chased a NATO-member warship from its waters.

 In June, Russia accused a British destroyer, the Defender, of breaching its territorial waters in the Black Sea, and said it had forced the ship away with warning shots and dropped bombs in its path.

Britain rejected Moscow’s account of the incident, which took place off Crimea, part of Ukraine which Russia annexed in 2014 in a move not recognised internationally. London said at the time its ship was operating lawfully in Ukrainian waters.

The USS Chafee pictured arriving in Hong Kong. She is an Arleigh Burke’class guided missile destroyer and is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group

That triggered a warning from a senior Moscow security official that Britain should avoid any repeat.

Mikhail Popov, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said: ‘Similar actions will be thwarted with the harshest methods in future by Russia regardless of the violator’s state allegiance. 

‘We suggest our opponents think hard about whether it’s worth organizing such provocations given the capabilities of Russia’s armed forces. 

Earlier on Friday, Russia said it had held joint naval drills with China in the Sea of Japan and practised how to operate together and destroy floating enemy mines with artillery fire.

Relations between Russia and the U.S. are at their lowest point since the Cold War, although President Vladimir Putin said this week he had established a solid relationship with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden and saw potential for ties to improve.

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