CNN learned from the U.S. Navy that the United States does not recognize Russia's claims on Sea of Japan waters, noting that Kremlin claims ownership of areas that far exceed the 12 miles from the Russian coastline.
"Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait is a unsafe escalation in a pattern of increasingly provocative and threatening activity", Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon told CNN on Thursday.
The missile destroyer conducted what the U.S. Navy describes as Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP), aimed at challenging nations that claim sovereignty over waters beyond the 12 nautical miles of their coasts guaranteed by worldwide law.
"The United States seeks a better relationship with Russian Federation, but this can not happen while its unlawful and destabilizing actions continue in Ukraine and elsewhere", he said.
A USA warship entered the Sea of Japan in a direct challenge to Russian naval activity in the area, the US military said Wednesday.
Russia and the USA are now at odds over the fate of the 1987 INF Treaty and recent Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The US Navy sent a warship to challenge Russia's maritime claims in the East Sea/Sea of Japan on Wednesday amid rising tensions between the military superpowers.
It was the first time the U.S. has conducted such an operation through the bay since 1987, a U.S. Navy official told ABC News. Under the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, governments must secure permission from Turkey 15 days before seeking to enter the Bosporus Straits, the only route into the Black Sea from the Mediterranean Sea.
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The Defense Department regularly conducts such "freedom of navigation" exercises, but it usually does so in the South China Sea in challenges to claims by China.
American missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed in disputed waters of the sea of Japan.
Tensions between Moscow and Washington are on the rise in the wake of apparent Russian aggression in the Sea of Azov, where Russian vessels rammed and fired on Ukrainian vessels before capturing the ships and their crews, and U.S. plans to withdraw from the Cold War Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a response to Russian violations.
Russian Federation engaged in a confrontation on November 25 with Ukrainian vessels around the Kerch Strait, which links the Azov Sea and the Black Sea.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conference in Brussels Tuesday, said the alliance "will collectively develop set of responses that demonstrate to Russians this behavior is unacceptable".
"We will continue to assess our presence in the region", he proclaimed.