Four U.S. Navy Ships operate in Barents Sea, north of Russia, for first time in decades

WASHINGTON – For the first time since mid-1980s, four U.S. warships sailed into the Barents Sea, close to Russian territorial waters.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement that three destroyers and a supply ship entered the Barents Sea on Monday alongside a British frigate.

The exercise was aimed at emphasizing freedom of navigation and demonstrating exemplary integration among allies, the statement said, stressing that no U.S. ship had sailed in the Barents Sea since mid-1980s.

In its statement, the U.S. Navy said the Russian Defense Ministry was informed of the exercise on 1 May to avoid any misunderstanding and to minimize risks.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said during an online conference that while the emerging coronavirus has put limits on the movements of the U.S. military, U.S. adversaries remain a threat.

“We’re seeing an increase in China’s activity in the South China Sea, and we’re seeing the Russians continue to test our air defense in Alaska and on the Northern border,” Esper said.