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Russian Spy Ship Spotted 30 Miles Off New England Coast

A news report Wednesday morning places the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov about 30 miles south of the Navy submarine base in Groton, Connecticut. Connecticut’s congressional delegation blasted the Trump administration and called on the president to view Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia as a “threat” to national security.

Groton is about 15 miles from Rhode Island and about 50 from Southeastern Massachusetts. Officials did not reveal the exact location of the ship, but the image below shows how close Massachusetts and Rhode Island waters come to the base. There is no indication from officials in which direction off the coast the ship was spotted.

Russian Spy Ship Spotted 30 Miles Off New England Coast

The spy ship is technically in international waters, but U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, shared the Fox News story on his Twitter page and wrote, Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?

A U.S. official said the Russian spy ship was loitering in the water, Fox News reports. Fox News states that the purpose of the Russian spy ship is to intercept communication and collect data on U.S. Navy sonar capability but adds that the ship has missiles, too. [Sign up for free local news alerts and newsletters: Massachusetts[2]|Rhode Island[3]][1]

Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why? https://t.co/6Hsm7T2GO2
Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 15, 2017[4][5]

Officials say they can t recall a Russian spy ship advancing this far up the Eastern seaboard. Pentagon officials told Fox News they expect the ship to head back to the Caribbean eventually, but no timetable was given.

“We are aware there is a ship,” Petty Officer Joshua Canup told Patch. Canup would only say that they were aware the ship is off the Atlantic coast. The Department of Defense released a statement to 47 ABC[6] that echoed Canup’s, saying the department was aware of the ship’s presence and the vessel had not entered U.S. territorial waters. The department further stated that it “[respects] freedom of navigation exercised by all nations beyond the territorial sea of a coastal state consistent with international law.”

Murphy later released an official statement Wednesday morning, stating a lack of surprise in regards to the spy ship incident.

“While this is not wholly unprecedented, it s part of a series of aggressive actions by Russia that threaten U.S. national security and the security of our allies,” Murphy said in a release. “Just yesterday, news broke that Russia violated an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Coupled with escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine and Russian jets buzzing a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea, Putin clearly thinks the Trump administration has given him a permission slip to flex his muscles.”

Murphy further stated that President Trump and his administration must end their silence and immediately respond to what he and many consider threats to national security. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also a Democrat from Connecticut, released his own statement[7] to WNPR Wednesday afternoon via Twitter. The senator said the ship’s presence “reflects a clear need to harden our defenses against electronic surveillance” and that he is personally monitoring the situation by remaining in close contact with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney (CT-2), a Democrat and ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, also released a statement Wednesday morning about the Russian spy ship.

A Russian spy ship patrolling 30 miles from the Groton SUBASE underscores that the threats posed by a resurgent Russia are real, Courtney said in a release. This unacceptable, aggressive action, combined with the buzzing of US Navy ships in the Red Sea yesterday are clearly testing the resolve of a new administration. While I have total confidence in our Navy s vigilant, responsible readiness, the White House needs to move past their seeming infatuation with Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace and security that he has been for the last five years.

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A Connecticut mayor and potential gubernatorial candidate, Dan Drew, of Middletown, tweeted directly to Trump Wednesday and wrote, “As a CT Mayor, I want to know if you’ll protect our territory or bow in supplication to Putin.”

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), a Democrat, used the situation to respond to an earlier tweet from Trump, where he stated that Crimea was taken by Russia during the Obama Administration and questioned whether the former President was too soft on Russia. DeLauro later followed up her response by stating “Correction: it’s a ship, not a submarine. However, President Trump needs to focus on the issues at hand rather than tweeting.”

The reports come on the heels of a number of revelations about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. Michael Flynn stepped down as national security adviser on Monday. Patch previously reported Flynn s departure[8] followed revelations that he misled White House officials about communications concerning sanctions he had with a Russian official back in December.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that multiple campaign associates were in contact with Russian intelligence officials for a year prior to the election. CNN then published an article later that night relaying similar findings.

Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to denounce the recent reports, referring to the sources as “fake news.”

This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017[9]

Read the full Fox News report here.
[10]

Photo credit: GuyDeckerStudio

By RJ Scofield, Patch Staff. Mike Carraggi, Patch Staff, contributed to this report

Get free real-time news alerts from the Boston Patch.

References

  1. ^ Russian spy ship was loitering in the water (www.foxnews.com)
  2. ^ Massachusetts (patch.com)
  3. ^ Rhode Island (patch.com)
  4. ^ https://t.co/6Hsm7T2GO2 (t.co)
  5. ^ February 15, 2017 (twitter.com)
  6. ^ 47 ABC (twitter.com)
  7. ^ released his own statement (twitter.com)
  8. ^ previously reported Flynn s departure (patch.com)
  9. ^ February 15, 2017 (twitter.com)
  10. ^ Read the full Fox News report here. (www.foxnews.com)

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