It is a veritable small armada that Beijing and Moscow sent to the strategic Bering Sea as part of naval exercises that the American press described as “unprecedented”.
This is not the preceding that the Russian and Chinese fleets patrol the Bering Sea, near the American state of Alaska, but this time, the number of ships involved is particularly high. “Russian and Chinese warships have sailed near the Aleutian Islands, according to US officials. The ships did not enter US territorial waters“, reported Saturday August 5 The Wall Street Journal. In response, four U.S. Navy destroyers were deployed to monitor the naval exercises that took place near the U.S. coast, according to the American daily.
“This joint naval group between Russia and China, working in very close cooperation, is unprecedented in terms of volume and scope.“Reaction on the Fox News antenna of the Republican Senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan, Saturday evening.”Whether you live in Alaska like me or on the east coast of the United States, it is alarming that such a naval group formed by our two main adversaries is probing the American coast so closely.“added one to the selected, specified:”It only strengthens‘the idea that we have entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by dictators in Beijing and Moscow».
2300 nautical miles travelled
The exact time and location of the Russian-Chinese invasion has not been released and information about the incident is still classified, according to regional news Alaska’s New Source. The Russian press also repeated the recent exercises. On August 4, the Tass agency, referring to an underwater exercise in the Pacific, cited the names of ten ships – five Russian and five Chinese. On the Moscow side, there are mainly two Oudaloï – the former anti-submarine warfare destroyer of the late Soviet Union – and two Steregouchtchi – more modest, but also more modern Corvette. For its part, Beijing deployed two type 052D destroyers -among the most modern in the Chinese Navy-, a type 054A frigate and a type 056 corvette. Each squadron deployed its own support ships. The eleventh ship is therefore unknown.
“In total, since the beginning of the patrols, the detachment has traveled more than 2300 nautical miles.“, said the Russian Pacific Fleet in a press release specifying that the crews of the ships have already passed the Sea of Japan, the Strait of La Pérouse, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Strait of Kamchatka, the last connected. on the Russian side on the North West of the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Therefore, these statements are compatible with those of the United States since the Aleutian Islands, further east, also separate this ocean from this sea, but this time on the American side.
The Bering Sea, next to the United States and Russia, is strategic since it connects the Pacific and the Arctic even further north. Since the Cold War, this area has also been important for nuclear submarine patrols by the two superpowers. China does not hide its Arctic ambitions and deploys more and more regularly its powerful military fleet – which is already the first in the world in the number of ships – towards the icy waters of the North.
“We continue to have a strong Coast Guard in Alaska – and it’s important that it continues. This includes building and hopefully sharing at least one icebreaker in our state, which we desperately need.“Senator Sullivan said, this time at the microphone of Alaska’s New Source. The Republican-elect worries about Russian dominance in this area: “We, the United States, have two icebreakers and one is broken. The Russians have 54, many of which are nuclear-powered. They are all armed. This is an area where we are far behind».
“More solid answers”
Russia’s progress in this area, which is not new, is a fact, although Dan Sullivan exaggerates elsewhere because the Russians are also struggling to renew their very old icebreaker fleet. nonetheless, they have made some recent progress, driven by the large projects to open “north sea routewhich facilitates global warming, opening commercial prospects. To date, Moscow has seven nuclear-powered icebreakers, and three more are under construction. But there is no place in the Pacific Fleet, poor relations in the very slow modernization of the Russian Navy. China has two conventional icebreakers and plans to invest in the field of nuclear propulsion to live up to its Arctic ambitions.
Meanwhile, patrols by Russian-Chinese ships are indeed increasing in this strategic area of the Bering Sea. By the end of September 2022, three Chinese ships – including a Type 055 destroyer, Beijing navy ship – and four Russian ships had already traveled near Alaska, causing concern in Washington. “Last year when this happened, the response of the US military, in my opinion, was very lukewarm and sent the wrong signal.“, commented Saturday Dan Sullivan who hopes for a”stronger answerof the US Navy in the future. In the regional context, it is a safe bet that the confrontation between Beijing, Moscow and Washington will in any case continue to increase in the coming months and years.
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