Moscow officials delivered a note to the U.S. embassy over the “violation” of Russia’s state borders by a U.S. Navy submarine this weekend.
"On February 12, a representative of the office of the military attaché for defense issues at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been handed over a note at the Main Directorate of the International Military Cooperation of Russia’s Defense Ministry in connection with the violation of Russia’s state border by the U.S. Navy’s submarine," Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday, according to state-backed news outlet TASS.
According to Russian officials, a Pacific Fleet group including the Udaloy-class destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov detected a U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine on the morning of Feb. 12 near the Urup Island of the Kuril Islands chain. The submarine’s location was transmitted to Marshal Shaposhnikov by an Ilyushin Il-38 “Dolphin” maritime patrol aircraft. The Kremlin has not publicly offered any evidence to corroborate its account.
The submarine allegedly ignored orders to depart Russia’s territorial waters immediately, prompting the destroyer’s crew to take “appropriate measures” to make it leave. The U.S. submarine then “started a self-propelled simulator to split the target image on radar and acoustic control means into two parts and retreated from Russian territorial waters at a maximum speed,” TASS reported.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday that the submarine allegedly ventured as deep as four kilometers within Russia’s territorial waters.
"As a result of special efforts, which were repeated three times, the sub was driven away from the Russian waters," Shoigu said, without specifying the scope and nature of these efforts.
Washington denied Moscow’s account of the incident on Saturday.
"There is no truth to the Russian claims of our operations in their territorial waters," said U.S. military spokesman Captain Kyle Raines in a statement reported by Reuters. "I will not comment on the precise location of our submarines but we do fly, sail, and operate safely in international waters.”
The U.S. military commonly monitors the activities of other countries without entering their territorial waters. Asked whether or not the incident took place in international waters, Raines reportedly said there was no interaction at all between the two sides.
President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not discuss the incident in their recent phone call, which focused on possible measures to defuse the ongoing crisis over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.
"We know about this. And the defence ministry is taking the necessary steps. But the presidents did not talk about this," Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian state media outlet Sputnik.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.