11 Chinese & Russian Warships Near Alaska – The U.S. Cries “Highly Provocative”, Ignoring Freedom Of Navigation

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Aug 07 2023
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What were America and its allies doing thousands of miles away from home? It’s funny that China was being called a bully for defending its territories, but the West was merely conducting freedom of navigations in the backyard of China – South China Sea. The best part was when China and Russia sailed near Alaska, the U.S. suddenly cries “highly provocative” manoeuvre.


In what appeared to be the largest number of warships deployed by Beijing and Moscow in a joint naval patrol near Alaska last week, Washington was forced to send four warships as well as Poseidon P-8 reconnaissance airplane. This is at least the third year in a row that Chinese Navy have sailed in or near waters off the Aleutian islands in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean.


“It’s a historical first,” – Brent Sadler, a retired Navy captain and senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation said in referring to the 11 Chinese and Russian warships. The largest such flotilla to approach U.S. territory, however, saw leaders like Alaska’s Republican Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski condemning the act as “incursion” by foreign vessels.

China and Russia Warships Near Alaska

But Chinese Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu simply said it was “according to the annual cooperation plan between the Chinese and Russian militaries, and the two countries have recently conducted joint maritime patrols in relevant waters in the western and northern Pacific Ocean.” Pengyu also said – “This action is not targeted at any third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation.”


While Washington was quick to play down the threat, not that the U.S. can do anything as the Chinese and Russian warships were operating according to international law, the episode demonstrates the double standard of the military superpower. China and Russia were merely exercising their freedom of navigation in the backyard of the United States.


For the U.S. senators to accuse the foreign warships of incursion is both hilarious and hypocrisy. Firstly, the Chinese and Russian did not enter American territory. Secondly, they were just doing exactly what the U.S. did near the water of China and Russia. So, the foreign military vessels cannot sail near the U.S., but American warships can do the same to others?

Alaska Map - US, Russia and China

On September 26, 2022, a U.S. Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea reported the presence of Chinese warships in the area. What appeared to be a Chinese guided missile cruiser had turned out to be three Chinese naval ships and four Russian vessels (including a destroyer) in a single formation, sailing about 86 miles (138 kilometers) north of Alaska’s Kiska Island on September 19.


The Honolulu-based US Coast Guard Cutter Kimball, a 418-foot (127-meter) vessel, spotted the Renhai CG 101 missile cruiser while on a routine patrol. The best part was, the Chinese and Russian warships were operating in the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). But there’s nothing the U.S. could do as China could take a page from American playbook and claims it was part of “freedom of navigation”.


Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, 17th Coast Guard District commander said – “While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms, we will meet presence with presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska”. Meaning the U.S. can only observe, but cannot condemn or protest the presence of the Chinese and Russian warships.

US Coast Guard Spotted China and Russia Warships Near Alaska

But it was the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters. In September 2021, Coast Guard cutters in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean encountered Chinese ships, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Aleutian Islands. The fleet of four ships included a guided-missile cruiser, a guided-missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel, and an auxiliary vessel.


Type 055 destroyer Nanchang, classified as a “cruiser” by the US Navy and China’s most advanced warship, was part of the fleet that were cruising in the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) The first recorded encounter was in 2015 when 5 Chinese naval ships – three Chinese combat ships, a supply vessel and an amphibious ship – were spotted in the area.


Interestingly, the Chinese and Russian formation came a month after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned about Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic and China’s increasing interest in that part of the world. The Western powers were worried because the shortest path to North America for Russian missiles and bombers is over the North Pole.

Type 055 Destroyer Nanchang

Russia has already set up a new Arctic Command, not to mention having opened hundreds of new and former Soviet-era Arctic military sites, including airfields and deep-water ports. Stoltenberg said – “We see a significant Russian military build-up with new bases, new weapons systems, and also using the High North as a test bed for their most advanced weapons, including hypersonic missiles,”


Other weapons amassed in the Arctic included “super-weapon” Poseidon 2M39 torpedo – an autonomous, nuclear-powered, and nuclear-armed unmanned underwater stealth torpedo designed to sneak past coastal defenses. The U.S. believes Poseidon (one of the six new Russian strategic weapons announced by Putin in 2018) is designed to “inundate U.S. coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis.”


China, meanwhile, has declared itself a “near Arctic” state. The NATO Secretary General said said Beijing plans to build the world’s largest icebreaker and is spending tens of billions of dollars on energy, infrastructure, and research projects in the north. Crucially, Beijing and Moscow have pledged to intensify practical cooperation in the Arctic, potentially challenging the West’s values and interests.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin - Toast 2

While Russian President Vladimir Putin has estimated the value of Arctic mineral riches at US$30 trillion, China believed the region possesses up to one-fourth of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas. While China is not one of eight Arctic sovereign states – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S. – it wanted a seat at the high table.


The presence of the 11 warships is a stark reminder of Alaska’s proximity to both China and Russia, as well as the fact that both countries could start a war with the U.S. Even before the Ukraine War began on February 24 last year, there were fears among U.S. policy makers and military generals of a volley of ballistic missiles raining down on Taiwan, naval bases in Okinawa, and facilities in Guam.


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