Russia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime Incident

Russia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime IncidentRussia, US Blame Each Other for Maritime Incident

Russia and the United States gave contradictory accounts on Tuesday of an incident involving the two countries’ navies in the Mediterranean Sea on June 17, each blaming the other for what they said were unsafe maneuvers.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a US destroyer had approached dangerously close to a Russian warship and protested at what it said was a flagrant US violation of rules to avoid collisions at sea, Reuters reported.

However, a US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Russian warship had carried out “unsafe and unprofessional” operations near two US Navy ships. Recent months have seen a number of similar Cold War-style incidents at sea and in the air, with each country’s military accusing the other of dangerous approaches in international waters and airspace.

In one such case, the US military said in April that Russian SU-24 bombers had simulated attack passes near the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, with one official describing them as one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory.

Russia’s Defense Ministry, uneasy about increased NATO activity close to Russia’s borders, said the latest incident “shows that it is US sailors who allow themselves to forget the basic principles of safe seafaring and not to think about the eventual consequences of this dangerous maneuvering in regions with intense navigation”.

The incident involved the USS Gravely and the Russian Navy frigate Yaroslav Mudry, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Gravely approached the Russian vessel at a distance of 60-70 meters from the port side and crossed in front of it, it said.

At the time of the incident, the Russian ship was in international waters in the eastern Mediterranean, cruising steadily and without making any dangerous maneuvers, the Russian statement said.

But the US Defense official said the Russian frigate had “repeatedly crossed the stern of USS Gravely at close proximity” and had “repeatedly asked Gravely to maintain a safe distance, yet continued to maneuver in close proximity to Gravely.”