US destroyer makes Sea of Japan FONOP in challenge to Russia

US Navy file photo of USS McCampbell underway

US Navy destroyer USS McCampbell carried out a freedom of operation in the Sea of Japan on December 5, in a move that is seen as a challenge to Russian territorial claims in the region.

McCampbell sailed near the Peter the Great Bay which is claimed by Russia but not recognized as Russian territory by the US.

Russian claims to the area exceed the 12 miles off the country’s coastline which is guaranteed by international laws, according to US officials.

The disputed region is close to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet homebase in Vladivostok.

According to a CNN report, this is the first US Navy FONOP in the region since 1987.

“McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations,” Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr, a US Pacific Fleet spokesperson, said.

The forward-deployed destroyer carried out the FONOP at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Russia over US claims of Russian Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty violations. The FONOP also follows a Kerch Strait incident from last month in which Russia fired upon and seized three Ukrainian Navy ships.

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