Russia and China teamed up on a major military exercise off the coast of Alaska last week, according to a new report.
The Wall Street Journal said the 11-ship force “appeared to be the largest such flotilla to approach American shores,” citing experts it did not name.
Four U.S. destroyers and P-8 Poseidon aircrafts kept a wary eye on the ships.
“It is a historical first. Given the context of the war in Ukraine and tensions around Taiwan, this move is highly provocative,” Brent Sadler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a retired Navy captain, said.
“Air and maritime assets under our commands conducted operations to assure the defense of the United States and Canada. The patrol remained in international waters and was not considered a threat,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.
Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska bristled with anger at the exercise, saying it “solidifies this idea that we’ve entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Beijing and Moscow who are increasingly aggressive,” according to Fox News.
“This is unprecedented in terms of the size and scope of this joint naval task force between Russia and China, working very closely together,” Sullivan said.
“Whether you live in Alaska like I do, or on the East Coast of the United States, a very large surface action task force between our two main adversaries, probing very closely to United States shores is concerning,” he said.
Sullivan noted that the response was more in line with what he thought should have happened last year when a Chinese guided missile cruiser, two other Chinese ships and four Russian ships were cruising 90 miles off the Aleutian Islands.
Will these close incursions become more frequent?
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“We ramped that up significantly. Four U.S. destroyers and air assets, P-8’s, that were tracking and monitoring this large-scale Russian-Chinese task force quite closely. So that is a significant improvement. That’s a lot of naval power up here demonstrating American resolve,” he said.
Russia and China have sent the largest flotilla in history to patrol alongside the US.
This week, eleven ships of the Russian and Chinese navies conducted patrols off the coast of the state of Alaska. The vessels did not enter US territorial waters and have since left the patrol… pic.twitter.com/Y4xBe8MZXI
— Feher_Junior (@Feher_Junior) August 6, 2023
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the incident was “a stark reminder of Alaska’s proximity to both China and Russia, as well as the essential role our state plays in our national defense and territorial sovereignty,” according to a statement posted on Murkowski’s website.
“Incursions like this are why we are working so hard to secure funding and resources to expand our military’s capacity and capabilities in Alaska, and why our colleagues must join us in supporting those investments,” she said.
Russian and Chinese warships hold joint Pacific drills, practicing search and destruction of a mock enemy submarine. The naval patrol is the third joint exercise between Russia and China in the Pacific as military cooperation continues despite tensions over Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/QlJl55P5bG
— Global Observer X (@GlobalObserverX) August 4, 2023
In August, Adm. John Aquilino, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Oahu, offered a word of warning about Russian-Chinese collaboration.
“Their exercises have increased, their operations have increased. I only see the cooperation getting stronger and, boy, that’s concerning, that’s a dangerous world,” he said, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“Today, a Russian and Chinese maritime task force is doing a combined patrol,” Aquilino continued. “We’ll see where that ends up, whether it’s off the Aleutian Islands, whether it’s in the Philippine Sea, whether it goes to Guam, whether it goes to Hawaii or whether it goes off the West Coast of the United States,” he said then.
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