USA destroyer conducts freedom-of-navigation operation near Russian Federation amid heightened tensions

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mc Campbell in a 2015

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.

After carrying out multiple "freedom of navigation" operations in waters contested by China, the US has now sent a destroyer in to the contested waters in the Sea of Japan.

Nor did the Navy leave any ambiguity about why the USS McCampbell made the journey.

"McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of the Peter the Great Bay, to challenge the excessive Maritime claims of Russian Federation and to defend the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations", said Makmur. However, Russia claims the entirety of Peter the Great Bay, extending well beyond 12 nautical miles from sections of the coast.

"Russia must know that the U.S. will not allow them to militarize global waterways in key areas such as the Black Sea, the Sea of Japan or Okhotsk, or elsewhere", Zilberman said.

"These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", McMarr said.

Russian Federation on Tuesday was accused by all 29 NATO members of violating the Cold War-era Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by deploying a missile that could reach Europe, CNN reported.

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This Naval activity followed less than two weeks after Russian Federation seized three Ukrainian vessels off the coast of Crimea in the Black Sea and the announcement by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, made on Tuesday (4t December) that the U.S. will leave the INF Treaty if Russian Federation does not comply with it within 60 days.

Also on Wednesday, CNN reported that the U.S. has begun making the necessary preparations to sail a warship into the Black Sea as a possible response to Russia's seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors following a clash in the Kerch Strait.

Russia and the U.S. are now at odds over the fate of the 1987 INF Treaty and recent Russian aggression against Ukraine.

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

Last week Donald Trump cancelled a planned meeting with Mr Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina because of Russia's renewed campaign of aggression against Ukraine.

Under the rules of the Montreux Convention, US ships can only be in the Black Sea for 21 days.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subsequently announced that the USA would begin the process of withdrawing from the treaty in 60 days should Russian Federation not come back into compliance.

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