U.S. destroyer challenges Russian claims in Sea of Japan

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mc Campbell in a 2015

A USA warship entered the Sea of Japan in a direct challenge to Russian naval activity in the area, the US military said Wednesday.

During the same event, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly declared that the USA -led alliance had intensified its presence in the Black Sea region in response to what he described as "Russia's aggressive actions".

"We routinely conduct operations to advance security and stability throughout the United States 6th Fleet area of operations to include the global waters and airspace of the Black Sea", fleet spokesman Commander Kyle Raines told CNN. The U.S. doesn't recognize Russia's claim to the waters, it said.

The Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet is headquartered in the eastern port city of Vladivostok, located in Peter the Great Bay, the largest gulf in the East Sea/Sea of Japan. Under worldwide maritime law, national sovereignty over water ends at 12 nautical miles.

"U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis", McMarr said in the statement.

The Pacific Fleet says these operations demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows, including in the Sea of Japan and elsewhere around the globe. "That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe".

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The U.S.is required to notify Turkey under a treaty that governs the passage of military vessels from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

The U.S. Navy is also preparing to send a warship into the Black Sea for the first time in a month to shore up support to Ukraine after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian vessels and 24 sailors aboard on November 25.

"We are dealing with someone that we simply can not trust", Mattis said during an interview with Fox News. "And it has worsened the relationship".

The U.S. military, which has made a series of high-profile FONOPs in the disputed South China Sea this year, characterized the operation as "routine" and did not target a specific country.

"The U.S. files Montreux Convention requests regularly but doesn't always follow through by sending a ship", Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Thursday. Igor Konashenkov noted that a package of control measures have been taken by the Russian Navy fleet in the Pacific Ocean to supervise the actions and movements of vessels sailing in this area, including those of other warships.

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