Are Russia, China Starting a War?, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, a combined fleet of Russian and Chinese ships patrolled the waters off Alaska’s coast, according to defense authorities and legislators. While this maneuver initiated a response from the US military, a representative from the US Northern Command stated it didn’t present any immediate threat to the US or Canada.

Both NORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command dispatched aircraft and vessels to oversee the combined fleet, which remained in international waters, the representative mentioned.

Senators from Alaska, Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, revealed on Saturday that 11 ships from Russia and China had been seen near the Aleutian Islands. In reaction, four US Navy destroyers were deployed. Murkowski emphasized that she and Sullivan had been consistently liaising with the Alaska Command and were privy to in-depth classified updates about the foreign ships passing through the Aleutian US waters.

Chinese Embassy’s Liu Pengyu communicated to CNN, explaining that the joint maritime patrols by Chinese and Russian naval forces in the northern and western Pacific Ocean were part of an annual collaborative plan between the two nations. He added that these actions were not aimed at any third country and were unrelated to the prevailing global and regional situations.

Sullivan noted a similar close approach of Russian and Chinese vessels to Alaska the previous summer. He mentioned that the US Coast Guard intercepted them during a standard patrol, a response Sullivan found lackluster. He had, therefore, urged higher military authorities to ensure a more formidable counteraction if such events recurred. “Seeing the recent approach met with four US Navy destroyers reaffirms our stance to Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin that America remains unwavering in safeguarding our primary national concerns in Alaska,” Sullivan remarked.

Blake Herzinger, affiliated with the United States Studies Center in Australia, aligned with the NORTHCOM’s assessment that the Russian and Chinese naval operations weren’t menacing and complied with international laws—just as the US Navy does in Russian or Chinese territorial waters. However, Herzinger pointed out the contrast in the American acknowledgment of the foreign ships’ navigation rights with China’s often exaggerated reactions to equivalent US naval activities.

Lastly, a report from July reveals that post Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February 2022, Russia and China have amplified their defense and economic collaboration. Both nations have frequently vocalized their commitment to fortifying their military relationships.