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A Russian spy ship has been sailing around Hawaii for days

Russian intelligence ship Kareliya (SSV-535) sailinh alongside the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Texas (CGN-39), December 1988. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
January 12, 2022

The U.S. military is keeping its eye on a Russian spy ship sailing near Hawaii for days.

“U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is monitoring the Russian vessel operating in international waters in the vicinity of Hawaii,” INDOPACOM spokesman Maj. Rob Martins said in a statement provided to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “As part of our normal daily operations, we closely track all vessels in the Indo-Pacific area of operations through maritime patrol aircraft, surface ships and joint capabilities.”

“We operate in accordance with international law of the sea and in the air to ensure that all nations can do the same without fear or contest and in order to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Martins added.

The Russian spy ship has been operating in international waters just outside Hawaii’s exclusive economic zone since at least Friday.

The arrival of this Russian ship comes months after the last Russian spy vessel was operating near Hawaii.

In May of 2021, the U.S. Pacific Fleet tracked the Russian spy ship Kareliya. The Vladivostok-based vessel had been operating about 15 miles west of the Hawaiin island of Kauai. The island is home to Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands and Kareliya’s loitering forced the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to postpone a test of a Standard Missile (SM-6) intercept of a replicated cruise missile threat.

Weeks later, in June of 2021, warships of Russia’s Pacific fleet sailed near Hawaii and various Russian military aircraft also began operating in the area. At one point, the Hawaii Air National Guard deployed three F-22 fighter jets from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to intercept Russian Tu-95 or Tu-142 Bear bombers approaching the Hawaiin Air Defense Identification Zone (HADIZ). Days later, F-22 fighter jets deployed to intercept Russian bombers that again flew towards Hawaii.

The Russian military presence near Hawaii continued through June. At one point, Russian warships and aircraft began practicing sinking a mock enemy carrier strike group. Russia’s Defense Ministry publicly announced its forces “worked out the tasks of detecting, countering and delivering missile strikes against an aircraft carrier strike group of a mock enemy.”

The June anti-carrier drills came within days of the U.S. Pacific Fleet also announcing Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 had moved into the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, even after the bulk of the Russian fleet finally left, a Russian spy ship again stayed behind and monitored maneuvers by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

The Russian military activity around Hawaii last year coincided with the first set of talks between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The latest Russian activity near Hawaii comes as the U.S. has called for weeks for Russia to withdraw a massive troop buildup near Ukraine.