Russia accused of peddling false claims it ‘threatened to ram’ US Navy warship

A row has broken out after Russia claimed one of its warships threatened to ram a US destroyer.

Moscow said its ship caught and chased off the USS John S McCain on Tuesday after it entered its territorial waters in the Sea of Japan.

It accused the US warship of travelling 1.2miles across its maritime border in Peter the Great Gulf, but says it left the area after its warning.

But the US Navy denied wrongdoing and said claims its destroyer was “expelled” were false.

American navy chiefs accused Russia of making excessive maritime claims.

The altercation took place in the Sea of Japan – also known as the East Sea – which is bordered by Japan, Russia and the Koreas.

The Russian defence ministry claimed its Pacific Fleet destroyer, the Admiral Vinogradov, used an international communications channel to warn the US Navy guided-missile destroyer.

It claimed the US warship violated its territorial waters in the early hours of Tuesday.

Moscow said it warned about "the possibility of using ramming to get the intruder out of the territorial waters”.

After this, it said the ship made no further attempts to enter Russian waters after leaving the areas and the Russian vessel continued to observe its movements.

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But the US Navy said its warship had been in international waters throughout as it carried out a "freedom of navigation” operation to assert its rights.

Lieutenant Joe Keiley, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, challenged Moscow’s claims.

He said “the United States will never bow in intimidation or be coerced into accepting illegitimate maritime claims, such as those made by the Russian Federation”.

He added: "The Russian Federation's statement about this mission is false.

"USS John S McCain was not 'expelled' from any nation's territory.”

Although incidents at sea between the two nations are rare, diplomatic and military relations between them are currently poor.

The last remaining major arms control pact between the former Cold War foes is due to expire in February despite months of talks to find a replacement.

President Vladimir Putin has also yet to congratulate US Democratic President-elect Joe Biden for his election victory over President Donald Trump earlier this month.

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