Russia‘s defense ministry has announced it sunk an aircraft carrier just 35 miles off the coast of Hawaii in a huge war games exercise that has alarmed the US.
At least 20 Russian warships, submarines, and support vessels, flanked by 20 fighter jets, are taking part in the exercises – the biggest since the Cold War.
Russia says that they are 300 miles off the coast of Hawaii, yet unconfirmed satellite images from June 19 appear to show them much closer – within 35 miles of the U.S. state.
Russia says their forces are at a distance of about 2,500 miles southeast of the Kuril Islands.
Russia’s defense ministry on Monday broadcast a video showing the latest scenes from the Pacific, where they are carrying out the largest exercises since the end of the Cold War
Moscow’s war games have alarmed the Pentagon, and on Monday Russia showed what they had been doing in the region (above), explaining that it was a practise session to sink an aircraft carrier
The Russian video showed their naval personnel carrying out mock attacks
The footage showed the Russian planes taking off from somewhere with snow-capped mountains in the background. The Drive reported that this was Yelizovo Air Base on the Kamchatka peninsula, in the far east of Russia
The new video showed the planes refueling mid-air, en route to the Pacific
The location would correspond broadly with reports from U.S. media channels that Russian warships were conducting their maneuvers between 300 and 500 miles west of the main Hawaiian islands, The Drive reported.
Their actions have alarmed the Pentagon.
Twice this month – on June 14 and 18 – the U.S. scrambled F-22s from Hawaii in response to Russian bomber flights.
Neither time did the bombers enter the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) perimeter, and so they were not intercepted.
On June 17 the Navy admitted that the USS Carl Vinson and her strike group were operating near Hawaii, without revealing when they had arrived, or why.
On June 18, a spokesman for the ship tweeted a photo captioned: ‘Vinson transits with USS Dewey in the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area. Vinson is participating in integrated ops with the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, training to a variety of missions, from long range strikes to anti-submarine warfare.’
Russia’s defense ministry on Monday issued video showing the maneuvers.
The Russians organized two detachments of ships, operating at a distance of about 300 miles from each other.
One group was playing the role of the enemy.
Unconfirmed satellite imagery suggested the Russians were far closer to Hawaii than believed
The satellite picture, from June 19, showed the U.S. ships – numbers 6 and 7 – escorting the Russians (1-5)
Also involved in the maneuvers was an unnamed Russian Navy submarine and a pair of Tu-142MZ Bear-F Mod. 4 long-range anti-submarine aircraft from the Pacific Fleet’s naval aviation branch, operating from Yelizovo Air Base on the Kamchatka peninsula, which were escorted by MiG-31BM Foxhound interceptors, The Drive reported.
The video showed the planes taking off from a snow-capped region, and then refueling in mid air.
The two detachments ‘worked out the tasks of detecting, countering and delivering missile strikes against an aircraft carrier strike group of a mock enemy,’ the Russian Ministry of Defense said.
As well as anti-shipping strikes, the task force also tested their readiness for anti-aircraft and anti-submarine missions, the Russian Ministry of Defense added.
Sailors from the Russian cruiser Varyag – which is leading the war games in the Pacific at the moment – are seen rehearsing for Russian Navy Day in July 2019
F-22A Raptor fighters, like the one pictured, have twice been scrambled this month to investigate Russia’s actions in the Pacific
The Pentagon have said they are watching closely.
‘U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is monitoring the Russian vessels operating in international waters in the Western Pacific,’ U.S. Indo-Pacific Command spokesman Captain Mike Kafka told CBS News in a statement.
‘We operate in accordance with international law of the sea and in the air to ensure that all nations can do the same without fear or contest and in order to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
‘As Russia operates within the region, it is expected to do so in accordance with international law,’ he added.
Russia and China were both flexing their military might with provocative war games in the Pacific, stepping up the pressure on Biden as he met with G7 allies in the UK and Putin in Geneva
A Russian military plane takes off to participate in the naval war games in the Pacific this week
A Russian helicopter is seen participated in the massive war games exercise in the Pacific
The Russian war games came as Biden met with Putin for the first time as US president
Footage earlier in the month of the mass Russian exercise posted by the Ministry of Defense shows Russian sailors tracking and ‘driving out’ a mock enemy submarine.
‘During the exercise, the crews of the Pacific Fleet’s warships fired from the automatic naval gun mount AK-630 and the universal naval artillery A-190,’ a Moscow defense ministry statement said.
The search and tracking of the mock enemy’s submarines were carried out by the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev equipped with guided-missile weapons, the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov and three corvettes, according to Sputnik.
Former chief of the General Staff of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, said: ‘In the post-Soviet period, there have been no comparable exercises involving such a large number of forces.’
Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden are pictured during last week’s meeting in Geneva
Rear Admiral Konstantin Kabantsov termed the drills ‘unique’ due to the large area of the Pacific Ocean where they are taking place and added that ‘such exercises have not been conducted… in the recent history of the Russian fleet.’
Earlier, Moscow also claimed it had intercepted a US reconnaissance plane on its Pacific coast, preventing it from approaching the Russian state border.
Video from the cockpit of a Su-35 fighter showed the American RC-135 spy plane, according to reports.
The exercises took place just a week after Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin endured an awkward meeting in Geneva, with Putin asked beforehand about Biden’s insistence that the Russian leader is a killer.
He implied that Biden is a career politician, while heaping praise on the current president’s predecessor Donald Trump.