The Russian Ministry of Defense claims a US Navy submarine was spotted near the Kuril Islands in Russian territorial waters.  

According to the Ministry, the incursion took place on the morning of February 12, 2022. At the time, Ilyushin Il-38 and Il-38N May anti-submarine aircraft of the naval aviation of the Pacific Fleet were carrying out an exercise near the Avacha Bay on Russian mainland.  

The training involved the location and tracking of submarines of the Pacific Fleet acting as mock aggressors. It was during this exercise that an unplanned encounter took place. 

“A Pacific Fleet group discovered during exercises near the Kuril Islands a submarine, most likely from the US,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu explained during a hearing with President Vladimir Putin, as reported by TASS news agency.  

The vessel, presumed to be a Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine by the Russian armed forces, was located near Urup island. The uninhabited islet hosts a bombing range used by Russian strike aircraft.  

Upon detecting the submarine, the Russian Navy sent audio warnings both in Russian and English to inform the submerged crew that it had entered national waters. At least one Kamov Ka-27 Helix helicopter and the anti-submarine destroyer, Marshal Shaposhnikov, gave chase, upon which the intruder allegedly launched an acoustic decoy before leaving the area at high speed. 

“As a result of efforts that took almost three hours the sub was driven away from the Russian waters where it was more than 4 kilometers inside,” Shoigu said. 

The incident was denied by the United States Defense Department. “We are aware of press reporting about an alleged naval incident in the Pacific,” a Pentagon spokesman told AFP news agency. “We cannot confirm the details of these reports at this time.” 

The military attaché at the US Embassy in Moscow was summoned and given an official diplomatic in which the Russian defense ministry said it “reserves the right to take all appropriate measures security in Russia’s territorial waters to ensure Russia’s security”. 

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Following reports of a foreign submarine cruising near the Satsunan Islands, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force deployed two warships, including a helicopter carrier transporting an array of helicopters dedicated to anti-submarine warfare. A Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft was also deployed in the region. Such a large deployment of force by Japan is relatively unseen.