China and Russia conducted a joint naval operation near U.S. territory earlier this week, triggering a large response from the U.S. Navy, Fox News Digital has learned.
The joint operation, conducted by two significant American adversaries, consisted of 11 ships and neared Alaska’s southwestern coast, according to Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who was briefed on the matter earlier this week by U.S. defense officials. Sullivan said the U.S. Navy ultimately mobilized four destroyers to guide the Chinese and Russian ships away from American waters.
“This is unprecedented in terms of the size and scope of this joint naval task force between Russia and China, working very closely together,” Sullivan told Fox News Digital in a phone interview late Saturday. “Whether you live in Alaska like I do, or on the East Coast of the United States, a very large surface action task force between our two main adversaries, probing very closely to United States shores is concerning.”
“It just solidifies this idea that we’ve entered a new era of authoritarian aggression led by the dictators in Beijing and Moscow who are increasingly aggressive,” he continued.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the joint Chinese and Russian operation Saturday.
In addition to the four destroyers mobilized, the U.S. also sent P-8 Poseidon aircraft to shadow the Chinese and Russian ships away from the Alaskan coast, according to The Wall Street Journal. The ships neared the Aleutian Islands, but never entered U.S. territorial waters.
Sullivan added that the American response was considerably improved compared to a similar, albeit smaller, incident that occurred in September. The U.S. sent a single Coast Guard cutter after it noticed a Chinese guided missile cruiser alongside two other Chinese ships and four Russian ships about 90 miles north of the Aleutian Islands on Sept. 19, 2022.
“We ramped that up significantly. Four U.S. destroyers and air assets, P-8’s, that were tracking and monitoring this large-scale Russian-Chinese task force quite closely. So that is a significant improvement,” said Sullivan. “That’s a lot of naval power up here demonstrating American resolve.”
“I’m going to continue to press — whether it’s the Obama administration, Trump administration, now Biden administration — to commit more Naval, Coast Guard and Marine presence and assets in this part of America,” he added. “And the Biden administration more broadly needs to get serious about serious, robust defense budgets.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Pentagon referred Fox News Digital to the U.S. Northern Command which also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It is a historical first,” Brent Sadler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told The Wall Street Journal. “Given the context of the war in Ukraine and tensions around Taiwan, this move is highly provocative.”