US on alert as Russian warships spotted in formation with Chinese missile cruiser

A US Coast Guard ship spotted a Chinese guided missile cruiser while on patrol in the Bering Sea, officials have said. The cruiser was 86 miles north of Kiska Island, which is 86 miles north of the US state of Alaska.

Two further ships from the Chinese navy were spotted along with four Russian naval vessels were also discovered in a single formation by the cutter, Kimball.

The 418 foot Kimball kept watch over the ships as they broke formation and sailed off.

A C-130 Hercules gave air support for the Kimball from a Coast Guard station in Kodiak, according to the US Coast Guard.

Rear Admiral Nathan Moore, Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander, said: “While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms, we will meet presence with presence to ensure there are no disruptions to US interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”

Russia’s Defence Ministry said two nuclear-powered submarines – the Omsk and Novosibirsk – fired anti-ship cruise missiles from the Chukchi Sea, hitting targets 250 miles away.

It published a video on social media which it said showed the missiles being launched from vessels situated at points of the Northern Sea Route.

The route is a commercial transport channel Russia is promoting as an alternative option for cargo ships travelling between Europe and Asia.

Moscow has continued a program of high-profile military exercises even as the bulk of its land forces are engaged in the war in Ukraine.

Earlier this month it conducted scaled-down war games in the Russian Far East with some 50,000 troops involved.

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Those exercises came just at the beginning of a Ukrainian counter-offensive which forced Russian troops to abandon swathes of territory in the eastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

The Defence Ministry said the Arctic drills were a test of Russia’s “ability and readiness to defend the Russian arctic by military means.”

In addition to the missile launches from nuclear-powered submarines, Russia’s so called Bastion coastal missile system also fired missiles at sea-based targets at a distance of 186 miles from the Chukchi peninsula, which is Russia’s easternmost territory.

The Kremlin’s militarisation of the Arctic region has caused disquiet in Western capitals, other Arctic nations and among environmental groups.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in August Russia’s military buildup in the Arctic presented a “strategic challenge” for the NATO alliance.

He said China has declared itself a near Arctic state and planned to build the world’s largest icebreaker.

Mr Stoltenberg said on a visit to Canada: “Beijing and Moscow have also pledged to intensify practical cooperation in the Arctic.

“This forms part of a deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests.”