GROTON, Conn. -- A Russian spy ship was spotted "loitering" about 30 miles south of a naval base in Groton on Wednesday morning, a U.S. official told Fox News. The Congressional delegation from Connecticut expressed alarm about Russia's escalating "aggressive actions" that threaten U.S. security and called on President Donald Trump to act.
The ship Viktor Leonov was located in international waters and had not entered U.S. territory, which extends 12 miles from the shore. But the official told Fox News that it was the farthest north the ship had ever traveled up the Eastern Seaboard.
The Naval Submarine Base New London is located in Groton. The Russian ship has surface-to-air missiles, but its main function is to intercept communications and collect information on Naval sonar, according to Fox News.
The incident comes one day after Russia deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile on Tuesday, possibly violating a treaty, according to multiple media reports.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, released a statement calling on Trump to respond.
"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.
"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. President Trump and his administration must end their silence and immediately respond to these threats to our national security.”
Murphy said that Trump should condemn the Russian government for deploying the missile on Tuesday, which he said violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. He also said Trump should reiterate support for NATO allies.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called for an investigation into possible connections between the Trump administration and Russian government officials.
“The presence of this spy ship has to be regarded very seriously because Russia is an increasingly aggressive adversary. It reflects a clear need to harden our defenses against electronic surveillance and cyber espionage. I am personally monitoring this situation and remain in close contact with both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard," Blumenthal said.
"The return of a Russian vessel is particularly concerning in the context of escalating Russian aggression - within days of the Russian's buzzing a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea, as well as deploying a cruise missile in violation of our arms control treaty - which only underscores the need for an independent investigation into possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russian agents."
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) said, "Russia’s escalating aggression is a serious national security threat. Yet again, the Kremlin is testing the resolve of the Trump administration. It is long past time for the White House to stop making excuses for Vladimir Putin and respond to his acts of thuggery with the toughness our security demands.”
According to Fox News, U.S. officials expect that the Russian spy ship will sail south along the eastern seaboard and return to the Caribbean, where it was last seen two years ago in Cuba.
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