Incident in the Sea of ​​Japan: John McCain vs. Admiral Vinogradov


Experts – on freedom of navigation and the need to strictly adhere to the law of the sea

The incident in the Sea of ​​Japan on November 24 with the participation of Russian and American warships received a fairly wide response in the world press. The Chinese media, in particular, showed particular interest in this topic. The interpretation of events, respectively, by the United States and Russia is fundamentally different: as the press service of the US Seventh Fleet said on Tuesday, the US destroyer John McCain on November 24 exercised the right to free navigation in the Peter the Great Gulf in the Sea of ​​Japan.

The statement notes that through this operation to ensure freedom of navigation, the rights to the legal use of the sea space were defended in accordance with the provisions of international law, despite Russia's excessive territorial claims.

“Through this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are not Russia's territorial sea and that the United States does not agree with Russia's claims that Peter the Great Gulf has historical status under international law,” the statement said..

“All of our operations are organized in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States, whether in the air or at sea, will act wherever permitted by international law,” the Seventh Fleet said..

In turn, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation previously announced that a Russian warship had discovered an American destroyer operating in Russian territorial waters off the Sea of ​​Japan..

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the destroyer "John McCain" went two kilometers beyond the sea border and returned to neutral waters after a warning from the Russian anti-submarine ship "Admiral Vinogradov", and did so after the threat of a ram.

In turn, the American side describes what happened as follows:

"… The United States will never allow itself to be intimidated or persuaded to accept illegal maritime claims such as those made by the Russian Federation," said Seventh Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Joe Keiley. – The statement of the Russian Federation about this mission is false. The destroyer "John McCain" was not "driven" from the territorial waters of any country ".

Mikhail Voitenko: "The fact that the entire bay is declared territorial waters is contrary to international maritime law"

Mikhail Voitenko, editor-in-chief of the online publication Marine Bulletin, does not see any particular danger in such incidents. According to him, such stories often occur over decades in different regions of the world..

“Moreover, it is often impossible to say unequivocally that one side or the other is to blame,” he added. – In this case, formally, from the point of view of the law, Russia is undoubtedly guilty, and the American destroyer had the right to enter the waters of the Peter the Great Gulf, since it did not violate the rules for the passage of territorial waters – the 12-mile zone. The fact that the entire bay was declared territorial waters back in Soviet times is contrary to international maritime law ".

Everyone is well aware of this, Mikhail Voitenko stated. On the other hand, in his opinion, both the Americans and the Russian sailors are well aware of the rules of the game..

“Every maritime country with some more or less extended maritime borders has a particularly sensitive zone,” he explained. – Formally, these are 12-mile zones, and if not formally, these are their native waters. Therefore, the Americans broke the rules of the game. They knew that this would cause a sharply negative Russian reaction and they went for it deliberately. ".

These are the next war games, the journalist believes. “Russian sailors act in a similar vein when they enter the waters close to the American coast somewhere in the Caribbean, in the Bering Sea, knowing where the edge lies, which it is better not to cross so as not to run into trouble. Naturally, such stories pose a certain threat, since it is fraught with unpredictable developments. Still, not two fishermen collide here, who did not share the area for fishing with each other. ".

However, the likelihood that the last incident could really turn into a serious conflict is still extremely small, summed up the editor-in-chief of the online edition "Marine Bulletin".

Andrey Kortunov: "It is better to resolve all issues within the framework of international agreements"

Incident in the Sea of ​​Japan: John McCain vs. Admiral Vinogradov

In turn, Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, believes that potentially, given the tense political relations that have developed between the two countries, such incidents are always fraught with the danger that the escalation process will become uncontrollable. “Even if initially none of the parties intends to use force, this is far from always possible,” the Voice of America interlocutor emphasized. – We know that in history there have been cases when wars did not arise because the parties necessarily wanted to start it. It was just that the spiral of the conflict unwound by itself, and then everything went on increasing. ".

Of course, now such an opportunity, unfortunately, is also present, Andrey Kortunov is sure. “Moreover, the incident took place against the background of the transition of power in the United States from one administration to another,” he said. "This is always a very painful process that carries additional risks.".

At the same time, the political scientist thinks that it is better to resolve all issues within the framework of international agreements than by force. “In addition, Russia and the United States have an agreement on the prevention of incidents at sea, and no one canceled it, as far as I remember. Therefore, of course, in the event of such incidents, one should probably strive to use the formal procedures regulated by international agreements in order to minimize risks, "concluded Andrey Kortunov.