Russian spy ship moves off Connecticut shore
Updated 11:38 am, Thursday, February 16, 2017
A Russian spy ship spotted south of the U.S. Navy’s submarine base in Groton, Conn. earlier this week has now been spotted off Virginia.
By late Wednesday night, the ship had moved south and was spotted approximately 65 nautical miles northeast of Norfolk, Va., home to one of the nation’s largest naval bases. The Russian spy ship likely was returning to the Caribbean and Havana Harbor, an official told Fox News.
Reports of a Russian “spy ship” lurking in the Atlantic south of the sub base brought a swift response from the state’s congressional delegation.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D. Conn., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said “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.”
“The return of a Russian vessel is particularly concerning in the context of escalating Russian aggression - within days of the Russians 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."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he wasn’t surprised a Russian spy ship would be interested in a submarine base.
“I think that clearly they (the Russians) like to track submarines. We know that they do. This is not something that is brand new. It’s getting a lot of coverage because I think of other Russian stories related to the Trump administration. They seek to understand how we have the best submarines in the world. And they’re made here.
“The fact that we know that it’s there is probably a good thing and I suspect that we have some of our ships in delicate places as well. I think it’s getting a lot of coverage because of the president’s changed policy towards Russia, which is very different than has been sustained by other administrations. It’s not that we shouldn’t be talking to the Russians, but we shouldn’t necessarily be embracing everything they are doing. And quite frankly, now that we understand that they have recently been active in our own elections, we should be wary of that. But that there are spy ships in the world - we shouldn’t be surprised.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted Wednesday morning “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?”
In a statement released after his tweet, Murphy said, “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. 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.”
The Russian ship is armed with surface-to-air missiles, but its main function is to intercept communications and collect data on U.S. Navy sonar capability. This was the furthest north the Viktor Leonov had ever traveled up the Eastern Seaboard.
A U.S. defense official told the Associated Press the Russian intelligence-collection ship made a port call in Cuba prior to moving north along the East Coast. The ship was seen off of Delaware on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., whose district includes the submarine base, said “the Russian spy ship patrolling 30 miles off the coast of Groton and the sub base underscores the very real threat posed by a resurgent Russia. This unacceptable, aggressive action, combined with the buzzing of U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea yesterday, is a clear indication that Russia is testing the resolve of the new administration. I have total confidence in our Navy’s vigilant, responsible readiness, but the White House needs to move past their infatuation with Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace that he has been for the last five years.”
Courtney said “Anyone who would loiter off the coast of Connecticut is not doing it because of the great climate and weather; it’s freezing out there. They are obviously doing it with aggressive intent.”
Courtney assured Connecticut residents that “we are are top of the situation with our Navy team down here in Washington. However, it is a reminder that the Russian government and the investment they have put into their Navy fleet is not a friendly gesture in terms of creating a system of global peace ans security. And this administration needs to wake up and recognize that and move on to bipartisan effort to respond to this threat.”
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., echoed Courtney view the ship’s close presence near the U.S. shore should be a wake-up call for the Trump admistration.
“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.”