/U.S. to launch protest with Russia over naval encounter, Shanahan says

U.S. to launch protest with Russia over naval encounter, Shanahan says

Patrick Shanahan

“We’ll have military-to-military conversations. Of course, we’ll demarche them,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said after a Russian destroyer almost collided with an American cruiser. | Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

The U.S. will issue a formal diplomatic protest to Russia objecting to the “unsafe and unprofessional” behavior of a Russian destroyer that nearly collided with the cruiser USS Chancellorsville Friday in the Philippine Sea, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said.

“We’ll have military-to-military conversations. Of course, we’ll demarche them,” Shanahan told reporters, adding that the encounter “will not deter us from conducting our operations.”

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The Navy released video of the incident and said that the Russian destroyer came within 50 to 100 feet of the Chancellorsville, forcing the U.S. warship to reverse its engines to avoid a crash. Chancellorsville was recovering its onboard helicopter when the Russian ship approached it, the Navy said, meaning the cruiser had to maintain a steady course and speed.

“We consider Russia’s actions during this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional and not in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), ‘Rules of the Road,’ and internationally recognized maritime customs,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.

The near-collision was just the latest in a series of aggressive actions by the Russian military in different parts of the world over the past two weeks.

On May 20, two pairs of U.S. F-22 fighters intercepted four Russian Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters entering Alaska’s air defense identification zone, according to a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command. A similar incident with the same type of aircraft occurred a day later, NORAD said.

Then on June 4, a Russian Su-35 fighter flew in front of a U.S. P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane over the Mediterranean Sea. The Navy’s 6th Fleet called the Russian pilot’s actions “irresponsible.”

“We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions,” 6th Fleet said.

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