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Russia, US Just Had a Tiff in Disputed Waters

Russia claims it chased off American ship, but the US says that's a lie
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2020 11:40 AM CST

(Newser) – The US and Russian navies just had a confrontation in disputed territory, and each side has a very different story to tell. Russia's defense ministry says it chased off the USS John S. McCain when the destroyer ventured into Russian waters in the western Pacific, reports CBS News. Russia says it first issued a warning via international communication, then threatened to ram the ship with its own destroyer in the Sea of Japan. "After the warning was issued and the Admiral Vinogradov changed its course, the USS John S. McCain destroyer returned to international waters," claims the Russian ministry, per Stars and Stripes. That's all a lie, says US Navy spokesman Lt. Joe Keiley.

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The "USS John S. McCain was not 'expelled' from any nation's territory," he says. What's more, he notes the US ship was never in Russian waters. Instead, it "asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan" as a way of challenging Russia's "excessive maritime claims." CBS notes that the boundary dispute goes back decades. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union claimed the area as its territory, and Russia maintained the claim. But the US says the boundaries drawn by the USSR violate international norms. For context, Stars and Stripes notes that the US Navy has increased such "freedom-of-navigation" operations since 2017, though they usually involve China. (Read more US-Russia relations stories.)

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