China and Russia Send Warships Near Alaska in ‘Unprecedented’ Joint Show of Force

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
August 6, 2023International

Warships from a joint China–Russia naval operation buzzed the coast of Alaska earlier last week in what has been described as the biggest ever combined Russian–Chinese battle group to ever approach American shores.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.) said in an Aug. 5 statement that 11 Russian and Chinese warships operating together got close to the coast of Alaska earlier last week in what the lawmaker called “yet another reminder that we have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators of Beijing and Moscow.”

Mr. Sullivan, who’s a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News late on Aug. 5 that the U.S. Navy mobilized four destroyers to escort the Chinese and Russian warships away from U.S. coastal waters.

The Alaska lawmaker noted that last summer saw a similar, although smaller scale operation off the coast of Alaska.

“Given that our response was tepid, I strongly encouraged senior military leaders to be ready with a much more robust response” in the event of another similar drill, Mr. Sullivan said in a follow-up statement.

He also said he was “heartened” to note that this latest incursion was met with a forceful response that sent a “strong message” to China and Russia that the United States “will not hesitate to protect and defend our vital national interests in Alaska.”

Details remain scant on the joint operation, however. The U.S. Northern Command didn’t immediately respond to a request for confirmation and more details from The Epoch Times, but a spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that, in addition to naval ships, U.S. air assets were also scrambled in response to the joint China–Russia operation.

“Air and maritime assets under our commands conducted operations to assure the defense of the United States and Canada. The patrol remained in international waters and was not considered a threat,” the command said in a statement, per the outlet.

‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’

Experts said the China–Russia operation was the largest ever to approach the U.S. coast.

“This is the largest combined Russian–Chinese battle group to approach American shores ever,” Brent Sadler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a retired Navy captain, said in a post on Twitter, which has been officially rebranded to “X.”

“Something wicked this way comes…”

He echoed the view of the immense scale of the joint operation in his interview on Fox News.

“This is unprecedented in terms of the size and scope of this joint naval task force between Russia and China, working very closely together,” Mr. Sullivan told the outlet.

“Whether you live in Alaska like I do, or on the East Coast of the United States, a very large surface action task force between our two main adversaries, probing very closely to United States shores is concerning.”

He noted that he believes that the operation shows that leaders in China and Russia are becoming “increasingly aggressive” in their posture toward the United States.

Prior Incidents

The similar, although smaller, incident that Mr. Sullivan referred to in his statement took place in September 2022. That operation involved a Chinese missile cruiser, two other Chinese navy ships, and four Russian naval vessels.

The U.S. response to that incursion was met with the presence of a single Coast Guard cutter, which he said was a weak response.

At the time, Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, the 17th Coast Guard District commander, said in a statement that the joint Chinese–Russian formation “operated in accordance with international rules and norms” while noting that U.S. naval forces would “meet presence-with-presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”

The Coast Guard release states that the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew was on a routine patrol in the Bering Sea and spotted a Chinese Renhai CG 101 missile cruiser near Kiska Island.

Later, the crew saw two other Chinese vessels, a Russian navy destroyer, and three other Russian vessels “all in a single formation with the Renhai” and were “operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone,” according to the statement.

After the Russian and Chinese ships were detected, the Coast Guard stated that the Kimball crew is operating under a new directive—Operation Frontier Sentinel—which it says is “designed to meet presence with presence when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters.”

The Chinese and Russian formation came a month after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned about China’s interest in the Arctic and Russia’s military buildup there.

Elsewhere, China and the United Arab Emirates plan to hold their first joint air force drill to bolster military cooperation.

The Falcon Shield-2023 joint exercise will take place in China’s Xinjiang province, the Chinese Defense Ministry stated on July 31, without specifying the dates and scope of the training.

“This is the first joint training between both air forces, aiming to deepen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries and enhance mutual understanding and trust,” it said in a statement.

Jack Phillips and Aldgra Fredly contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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