US military monitors Russian and Chinese naval patrol near Alaska

A show of force in the Pacific Ocean

A joint naval patrol of Russian and Chinese vessels operated off the coast of Alaska last week, according to defense officials and lawmakers. The patrol consisted of several ships, including a Russian destroyer, a Chinese frigate, and a Chinese supply ship. The patrol stayed in international waters, but came close to the US exclusive economic zone around the Aleutian Islands.

US military monitors

The US military responded by deploying four US Navy destroyers, as well as planes and ships from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM). The US forces monitored the Russian and Chinese patrol, but did not engage in any hostile actions. A NORTHCOM spokesperson told CNN that the patrol did not pose a threat to the US or Canada.

A sign of growing cooperation between Russia and China

The joint naval patrol is a sign of the growing cooperation between Russia and China, who have intensified their defense and economic partnership since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The two countries have repeatedly pledged to strengthen their military ties, and have conducted joint exercises and operations in various regions, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Arctic.

According to a July US intelligence report, Russia and China share common interests and goals in challenging the US-led international order, undermining democratic values, and expanding their influence in strategic areas. The report also warned that the two countries could coordinate their actions more closely in the future, posing a greater threat to the US and its allies.

A message to the US and its allies

The joint naval patrol near Alaska is also a message to the US and its allies, who have been increasing their presence and activities in the Indo-Pacific region. The US has been conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, where China claims most of the waters and islands. The US has also been supporting Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province, by providing arms sales and diplomatic contacts.

The US has also been working with its allies, such as Japan, Australia, India, and France, to form a coalition to counter China’s assertiveness in the region. The coalition, known as the Quad, has held joint military exercises, diplomatic meetings, and vaccine initiatives. The Quad has also invited other countries, such as South Korea, Germany, and Britain, to join its efforts.

The joint naval patrol near Alaska could be seen as a response to these moves by the US and its allies. It could also be a way for Russia and China to demonstrate their capabilities and interests in the Pacific Ocean, where they have competing claims with other countries over resources and territories.

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