USA warship sails in Sea of Japan waters claimed by Russian Federation

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US warship challenges Russia claims in Sea of Japan

The Yokosuka-based guided-missile destroyer challenged Russia's maritime claims by sailing in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay, the largest gulf in the Sea of Japan and home to Vladivostok, port for the Russian navy's Pacific Fleet, according to CNN and U.S. Naval Institute News.

On Wednesday (5th December), the U.S. Navy sent its McCampbell destroyer to sail near the contested Russian-claimed waters in the Sea of Japan, calling the operation "freedom of navigation". In the South China Sea, despite perceptions that U.S. FONOPs have been exclusively conducted against Chinese claims, the U.S. Navy has also challenged excessive maritime claims made by U.S. allies and partners, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

The move is part of what the Navy calls "freedom of navigation operation", which challenges nations that claim sovereignty over waters beyond the 12 nautical miles allowed by global maritime law.

The US Navy has not conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the area since 1987 during the height of the Cold War, a naval source told CNN. "These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

The last United States ship to enter the Black Sea was the fast transport ship USNS Carson City in October. While Russia has ratified the convention, the United States has not.

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Also on Wednesday, CNN reported that the USA has begun making the necessary preparations to sail a warship into the Black Sea as a possible response to Russia's seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors following a clash in the Kerch Strait. Under worldwide maritime law, national sovereignty over water ends at 12 nautical miles.

The U.S. has also protested the Russian detention of dozens of Ukrainian sailors transiting through the Kerch Strait last month.

Citing the Black Sea dispute, President Donald Trump last week canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subsequently announced that the US would begin the process of withdrawing from the Cold War nuclear treaty in 60 days should Russian Federation not come back into compliance.

Russian Federation has "partially unblocked" Ukraine's ports on the Azov Sea, allowing ship traffic though the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan said Tuesday in a statement posted on the ministry's website. Under the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, governments must secure permission from Turkey 15 days before seeking to enter the Bosporus Straits, the only route into the Black Sea from the Mediterranean Sea.

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