Russian Spy Ship ‘Loitering’ Near US Navy Submarine Base
The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov was spotted 30 miles south of Groton, Connecticut, which is the location of the U.S. Navy submarine base. American officials characterized the move as “loitering” in the water as it was the farthest north the ship had traveled.
As the U.S. territorial boundary extends 12 miles from the coast, the Leonov is technically traveling in international waters. Its close proximity, however, raised concerns considering Russia’s series of military developments and provocations. FOX reported that aside from being armed with surface-to-air missiles, the main function of the Russian ship is to intercept communications and collect data on U.S. Navy sonar capability.
As per the report of Ars Technica, the proximity of the Leonov in Groton was an effort to collect data on the comings and goings of submarines in the area. Additionally, the Russian spy ship, which was built in 1988, is equipped with a satellite communications antenna for transmitting signals intelligence back to its homeland.
Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented about the alarming situation. “Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?,” posted Murphy on his Twitter account.
Before the Leonov was spotted near the U.S. mainland, Russia recently deployed ground-based cruise missiles, which is a violation of the Intermedia-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It was signed by both Washington and Moscow in 1987. In addition, four Russian military aircraft reportedly buzzed a U.S. guided missile destroyer last Friday in the Black Sea.
Three Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer fighters alongside an Ilyushin II-38 surveillance aircraft reportedly made a low-altitude, high-speed passes on USS Porter (DDG-78) last week. The commander of the Porter deemed Russia’s action as “unsafe and unprofessional.”