A Russian anti-submarine destroyer chased off a US submarine near the Kuril Islands, forcing it to leave the country’s territorial waters, Moscow said Saturday, amid raging tensions over Ukraine.
A Pentagon spokesman, asked by AFP for comment, said only: “We are aware of press reporting about an alleged naval incident in the Pacific. We cannot confirm the details of these reports at this time.”
The Russian defence ministry said that during planned military drills the Marshal Shaposhnikov destroyer detected a US Navy Virginia-class submarine in Russian territorial waters near the Kuril Islands in the northern Pacific.
When the submarine ignored demands to surface, the crew of the frigate “used appropriate means” and the US submarine left at full speed, the ministry said, without providing further details.
The ministry also said it had summoned the US defence attache in Moscow over the incident.
“In connection with the violation by the US Navy submarine of the state border of the Russian Federation, the defence attache at the US embassy in Moscow was summoned to the Russian defence ministry”, the defence ministry said.
The Kurils, which lie north of Japan’s Hokkaido island, have been controlled by Moscow since they were seized by Soviet troops in the waning days of World War II.
The incident took place near the Kuril island of Urup which is controlled by Russia.
It came amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West that have seen Moscow surround Ukraine on three sides with more than 100,000 troops, with Washington warning that an all-out invasion could begin “any day”.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Saturday condemned the claims as a “provocation”