The United States deployed naval and reconnaissance assets following a joint maritime patrol by Chinese and Russian military vessels near Alaska last week. The patrol near Alaska was the largest of its kind in the region.
According to US senators from Alaska, the joint patrol consisted of 11 Chinese and Russian warships near the Aleutian Islands. The US responded by dispatching four destroyers: the USS John S McCain, the USS Benfold, the USS John Finn, and the USS Chung-Hoon, along with a Poseidon P-8 patrol airplane.
In a statement, Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Washington DC, reassured that the patrol “is not targeted at any third party” and that it has “nothing to do with the current international and regional situation.”
Alaska’s senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have closely monitored the situation. In a statement, Senator Murkowski said, “We have been in close contact with leadership … for several days now and received detailed classified briefings about the foreign vessels that are transiting US waters in the Aleutians. This is a stark reminder of Alaska’s proximity to both China and Russia, as well as the essential role our state plays in our national defense and territorial sovereignty.”
Sullivan, echoing Murkowski’s statement, said, “The incursion by 11 Chinese and Russian warships operating together – off the coast of Alaska – is yet another reminder that we have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Beijing and Moscow.”
Brent Sadler, a retired Navy captain and senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s a historical first.” He referred to the patrol’s proximity to Alaska as a “highly provocative” move, especially in light of Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the strained U.S.-China relations over Taiwan.