The United States responded by deploying four navy warships after Chinese and Russian naval forces conducted joint patrols near the Alaskan coast, as reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The incident involved at least 11 Russian and Chinese ships nearing the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, though they did not enter US territorial waters and eventually departed. During the patrol, the foreign vessels were closely monitored by four US destroyers and P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
Brent Sadler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and retired navy captain, emphasized the significance of the situation, stating that it marked a historical first. He also highlighted the heightened tension due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and the situation around Taiwan, which adds to the provocative nature of this joint naval operation.
The US Northern Command confirmed the deployment, assuring that the operation aimed to defend the United States and Canada. They clarified that the joint patrol by the foreign navies remained within international waters and did not pose a direct threat.
Alaska’s Republican Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski were closely monitoring the situation, having received detailed classified briefings about the foreign vessels transiting US waters in the Aleutians. They released a joint statement stressing Alaska’s crucial role in national defense and territorial sovereignty, underscoring the state’s proximity to both China and Russia.
The Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, responded to the concerns by stating that the patrol was not directed at Washington or any third party. The embassy spokesperson, Liu Pengyu, cited an annual cooperation plan between the Chinese and Russian militaries as the basis for the joint maritime patrols in the western and northern Pacific Ocean.
This is not the first time such an incident has occurred, as a similar operation took place in 2022, according to Senators Sullivan and Murkowski. They urged senior military leaders to be prepared with a more robust response should such a joint Chinese/Russian naval operation occur off the US coast again.
In the past, there have been other recorded encounters with Chinese navy ships in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean, with the first recorded instance dating back to 2015.