Disinfo: US destroyer violated Russian territorial waters


US destroyer John McCain violated territorial waters of the Russian Federation when entering two kilometres into Bay of Peter the Great in the Sea of Japan. The ship retreated only when the Pacific Fleet’s anti-submarine vessel Admiral Vinogradov threatened to ram the US vessel.


A recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about encircled Russia.

The vessel (USS John McCain) mentioned in the article was performing what the US Navy describes as a freedom of navigation operation, or FONOP, in the vicinity of Peter the Great Gulf, which Russia claims as Russian territorial waters, but that the United States considers international waters.

According to a US Navy press release, in 1984 the then-Soviet Union declared a system of straight baselines along its coasts that included a baseline enclosing Peter the Great Gulf as internal waters. Russia has continued since making such excessive claim, but the United States contends that it includes more water than the country is entitled to claim under international law.

The Soviet Union first claimed Peter the Great Bay as a historic bay by a 1957 Decree. The United States protested the claim that same year, as did Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Federal Republic of Germany. The 106-mile closing line is, at one point, more than 20 miles from any land territory, and 47 miles seaward from Vladivostok, an important Soviet naval base in the past.

The international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention provides for certain rights and freedoms and other lawful uses of the sea to all nations. The United States upholds these rights and freedoms as a matter of principle to preserve the freedom of the seas that is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity. The US Navy asserted that "as long as some countries continue to assert maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and that purport to restrict unlawfully the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all States, the United States will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the sea guaranteed to all".


  • Reported in: Issue 222
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/11/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia, US
  • Keywords: Encircling Russia


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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