IndraStra Global Editorial Team
Image Attribute: SSV-175 Viktor Leonov
The Russian intelligence collection ship (Vishnya-class) SSV-175 Viktor Leonov was located 30 miles from Norfolk, Virginia, in international waters. Previously it has been seen loitering off the coast of Connecticut where it had positioned itself east of Long Island about 30 miles south of the New London, which the Navy describes as the “Home of the Submarine Force.”
The ship is known as an AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence) was "loitering" in the area, presumably gathering intelligence about U.S. Navy submarine operations in and around Naval Station Norfolk which supports the U.S. Navy’s, Atlantic Fleet.
According to the officials, the whole incident is very much similar to 2014 and 2015 when this particular class of ship (with same hull number) stayed for several weeks at a time close to the other U.S. Navy submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia.
From an international law perspective, the Russian intelligence ship has been operating within accepted norms, which recognize a nation's territorial waters as extending 12 miles from the shoreline. The U.S. Navy follows the same protocols when it conducts routine patrols around the world and freedom of navigation operations in contested regions such as the South China Sea.
However, its voyage is being linked with the latest in an alarming string of incidents involving Russian forces. Last week (Feb.10), a group of Russian jets buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea and also the U.S. accused Russia of secretly deploying cruise missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in violation of a major arms-control treaty.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP