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US Navy sends ships into Barents Sea for first time in decades



The U.S. Navy has sent four ships into the Barents Sea off of Russia’s Arctic coast for the first time since the Cold War, the Navy said Monday.

Three U.S. destroyers — the USS Donald Cook, USS Porter and USS Roosevelt — and one U.S. support ship, the USNS Supply, entered the Barents Sea on Monday with a British Royal Navy frigate for the first time since the mid-1980s “to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies,” the Navy said in a news release.

“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we maintain our steady drumbeat of operations across the European theater, while taking prudent measures to protect the health of our force,” Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, said in a statement. “We remain committed to promoting regional security and stability, while building trust and reinforcing a foundation of Arctic readiness.”

The Navy notified the Russian Defense Ministry about the planned operation Friday in an effort to “avoid misperceptions, reduce risk and prevent inadvertent escalation,” the release added.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its Northern Fleet “began tracking the actions” of the ships when they entered the Barents Sea on Monday at 7 a.m. Moscow time.

The operation in the Barents Sea follows several interactions between the U.S. and Russian militaries in recent weeks.

In mid-April, the U.S. 6th Fleet said a Russian SU-35 fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea in an incident the Navy deemed “unsafe” because the Russian plane conducted a high-speed, inverted maneuver directly in front of the U.S. plane.

That incident came after several occasions in March and April where U.S. Air Force fighter jets intercepted Russian aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.



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