A Russian spy ship patrolled 30 miles offshore a U.S. Navy submarine base in Connecticut on Wednesday in what that state's Congressman called an effort to test the resolve of the new Trump administration.
A U.S. defense official told CNN the SSV-175 Viktor Leonov sailing in international waters is outfitted with a variety of high-tech spying equipment designed to intercept signals intelligence. Fox News first reported the ship's location.
The official noted it is not the first time the ship has been deployed off the coast of the U.S. Similar patrols were carried out by the Leonov in 2014 and 2015 off Florida, and such missions were more common during the Cold War.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., a member of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said the ship was spotted about 30 miles from the Naval Submarine Base New London, located in Groton, Conn. It is the Navy's primary East Coast submarine base.
Courtney said the move, coupled with the recent reported buzzing of U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea by Russian planes, represents "unacceptable, aggressive action ... clearly testing the resolve of a new administration."
"While I have total confidence in our Navy’s vigilant, responsible readiness," he said in a statement, "the White House needs to move past their seeming infatuation with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace and security that he has been for the last five years," the Hartford Courant reports.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and ranking member on a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, said while the ship's presence offshore was not wholly unprecedented, "it's part of a series of aggressive actions by Russia that threaten U.S. national security and the security of our allies."
Freshman Republican Rep. Scott Taylor was concise with a Tweet about how to respond:
Send a few of our ships out there. #Russian ship.— Scott Taylor (@Scotttaylorva) February 15, 2017
The report of the spy ship comes as a Trump administration official says U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia deployed a cruise missile in violation of a Cold War-era arms control treaty. The missile would be capable of threatening NATO's European members. That deployment was first reported by The New York Times.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis was scheduled to visit to visit NATO's headquarters to meet with his counterparts Wednesday. The alleged violation complicates the outlook for U.S.-Russia relations amid turmoil on Trump's national security team.
The Obama administration three years ago accused the Russians of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing and testing the cruise missile. Officials anticipated that Moscow eventually would deploy it.
Russia denies it violated the treaty. An administration official who wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly said intelligence agencies assessed the missile became operational late last year.