Russian spy ship collides with freighter, sinks in Black Sea

A Russian naval reconnaissance ship sunk in the Black Sea Thursday after colliding with a freighter near the Turkish coast.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the collision occurred about 25 miles northwest of the Bosphorus Strait and left a hole in the hull of the Liman. The ministry statement, carried by Russian news agencies, said none of the crew members was hurt.

A Turkish coastal official told the Reuters news agency that almost 80 personnel from the Russian ship had been safely evacuated from the stricken vessel, which sunk near Bosphorus, Turkey.

Turkey’s state-run news agency said the prime minister had called his Russian counterpart to express his “sadness” over the collision.

Read more at CBS News.

 

Russian bombers again fly near Alaska

For the second consecutive night, Russia flew two long-range bombers off the coast of Alaska on Tuesday, this time coming within 36 miles of the mainland while flying north of the Aleutian Islands, two U.S. officials told Fox News.

The two nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers were spotted by U.S. military radar at 5 p.m. local time.

Unlike a similar incident Monday night, this time the U.S. Air Force did not scramble any fighter jets.

Instead, it launched a single E-3 Sentry early warning aircraft, known as AWACS, to make sure there were only the two Russian bombers flying near Alaska, and not other aircraft flying underneath the large bombers.

U.S. territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from shore.

Two Russian bombers flew within 100 miles of Alaska on Monday night.

The Russian bombers took off from an airbase in Petropavlovsk, Russia and returned five hours later to an airbase in Anadyr. Both locations are in eastern Russia, some 1,000 miles away.

Read More at Fox News.

US official: With eye on North Korea, China puts bombers on ‘high alert’

Several senior administration officials told CNN Thursday that President Donald Trump’s strategy toward North Korea hinges on one word: China.

“Nobody thinks the Chinese are going to press North Korea militarily or bring the regime to its knees, but the strategy looks to China to find a political solution more than anything else,” one senior official said.

The officials said Trump’s approach is based on a careful review of past US efforts to deal with North Korea, noted that during the analysis of failed negotiating efforts with the long-reigning Kim family, one thing became abundantly clear: “China has never exerted maximum leverage on the Kim regime.”

Trump’s China-centric approach comes as the US sees evidence that the Chinese military is preparing to respond to a potential situation in North Korea, a US defense official told CNN Thursday.

Chinese air force land-attack, cruise-missile-capable bombers were put “on high alert” on Wednesday, the official said, adding that the US has also seen an extraordinary number of Chinese military aircraft being brought up to full readiness through intensified maintenance.

The official said that these recent steps by the Chinese are assessed as part of an effort to “reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency.”

Such a contingency could include the risk of an armed conflict breaking out as tensions on the peninsula have risen in the wake of multiple North Korean missile tests. There has also been ratcheted up rhetoric from the US and Pyongyang, with the latter’s state media warning Thursday that a pre-emptive strike by North Korea would result in the US and South Korea being “completely destroyed in an instant.”

Read More at CNN.com

U.S. Sends Nuclear Sniffer Plane to Korea

The U.S. Air Force dispatched a nuclear sniffer aircraft Thursday to the east of the Korean Peninsula amid the possibility of North Korea’s imminent nuclear test, a government source said.

“The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, a special-purpose U.S. plane, made an emergency sortie today over the East Sea,” the source said, requesting anonymity.

Its mission is to collect samples from the atmosphere in order to detect and identity a nuclear explosion.

It arrived at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, early this month amid indications that the North is preparing for another nuclear test.

Thursday’s flight appears meant to check whether the secretive communist nation has detonated a nuclear bomb.

It also tests operational readiness in the event of an actual provocation by the North, added the source.

There was an unconfirmed rumor that North Korea has notified China of its nuclear experiment plan.

South Korea’s military said earlier the North seems all set to conduct what would be its sixth nuclear test at its Punggye-ri site in its northeastern region anytime on the leadership’s decision.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Russian Spy Ship Returns Off U.S. Coast

A Russian spy ship has reappeared off the U.S. eastern seaboard, sailing just 20 miles south of the U.S. Navy submarine base at King’s Bay, Georgia, and heading north.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports the Viktor Leonov, known as an AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence) trawler, has a port call scheduled in Jamaica for mid-April, and the assumption among U.S. officials is that it will make one more run up and down the east coast before heading to Jamaica.

They Leonov made a similar journey along the East Coast in February, sailing close to a U.S. naval base in Virginia and Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut, which the Navy describes as the “Home of the Submarine Force.”

During its February patrol of the East Coast, the closest the ship came to land was 17 miles, which is still in international waters, Martin reported.

Its voyages are the latest in an alarming string of incidents involving the Russian military. In February, a group of Russian jets buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea and the U.S. accused Russia of secretly deploying cruise missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in violation of a major arms-control treaty.

Read More at CBS News.

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