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Coast Guard confirms Russian spy ship spotted off Long Island coast

02/15/2017 2:05 PM |

A Russian ship — reportedly an intelligence vessel — was spotted sailing up the East Coast near Long Island in international waters, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Wednesday.

The ship, which according to a Fox News report is the SSV-175 Viktor Leonov, remained in international waters while sailing south of Long Island, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jonathan Cinquegrana.

“We’re aware of it,” he said. “It’s not the first time this ship is around.” He declined to go into further detail about the ship. A U.S. Navy spokesperson handling the incident was not immediately available for comment.

The Fox News reported cited an unnamed U.S. official who said the Russian-flagged ship was “loitering” in waters near a U.S. Navy submarine base, but the Coast Guard denied that claim. Mr. Cinquegrana said the ship was never near the base.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) released a statement Wednesday afternoon stating that his office has requested more information from officials.

“Russia’s increased aggression is a direct threat,” Mr. Zeldin said in the statement. “Vladimir Putin aspires to be Vladimir the Great and probably would love to put the U.S.S.R. back together again if he could. Russia is our adversary, meddling in ways globally that are putting American service members and the security of the free world at risk.”

The Russian expedition comes hours after revelations about ties between President Donald Trump’s administration and the Russian government forced out national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Mr. Flynn resigned Monday after media reports revealed he had discussed lifting sanctions against Russia in a December call to a Russian official. Mr. Flynn had previously denied discussing the sanctions — which were imposed by President Barack Obama in response to alleged Russian hacking of Democratic Party email servers during the 2016 election.

The ship’s appearance also followed reports that Russia has deployed ground-based cruise missiles within Russia in violation of a 1987 weapons treaty. Last week, four military aircraft also flew within 200 yards of a U.S. ship in international waters in the Black Sea, according to a Reuters article.

In a written statement, Coast Guard Long Island Sound command duty officer ENS Rodion Mazin said the Coast Guard was always aware of the ship’s travel.

“We respect freedom of navigation exercised by all nations beyond the territorial sea of a coastal state consistent with international law,” Mr. Mazin said. “The Coast Guard continues to coordinate with federal agency partners to monitor maritime contacts operating in the vicinity of U.S. shores.”

According to Fox News, the ship was expected to sail south along the East Coast and return to the Caribbean.

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