by Humera Gul
The Russian spy ship spotted near the Connecticut shore close to Groton Wednesday, Feb. 15, was a test to see how the U.S. administration would react, said Central Connecticut State University political science professor Ghassan El-Eid.
“They are testing the reaction of Donald Trump and gauging his response,” said El-Eid, “Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump has stressed the need to improve relations with Russia. Indeed, his national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign amid allegations that he had unauthorized talks with the Russian advisor to the United States. To be sure, Trump’s reaction to this provocative act by Vladimir Putin was rather lukewarm.”
The ship was beyond the 12-mile territorial water zone which is considered to be part of the territory of the coastal state (U.S.) in international law and on which it has full control and sovereignty.
The ship was spotted near shore close to Groton, about 30 miles away from the U.S. Navy submarine base. It was identified as SSV-175 Viktor Leonov, sailing in international waters. The ship is equipped with spying technology and is designed to intercept signals.
Nathan Buyak, president of the Central Connecticut State University Republican Club, believes nobody has anything to be worried about.
“It is highly unlikely that they are here to gather specific intel, so that would indicate to me that Putin is testing Trump’s reaction,” said Buyak. Buyak served in the Navy for six years. “Once again, this is far above my pay grade, but I think we need not worry, as these ships are never armed. It is a show, I think.”
Officials have noted that this is not the first time a ship has been found near the U.S. Similar ships were spotted in 2014 and 2015 off the coast of Florida.
This Russian spy ship, seen so close to U.S. waters, causes a national security crisis for the United States, according to many U.S. congressmen.
“[The Russian spy ship] is a part of a series of aggressive actions by Russia that threaten U.S. national security and the security of our allies,” said Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.
The United States has ships located in the Black Sea near Russia’s coastline. Buyak says this is something that the United States does to other countries often.
“We do it all the time to the Chinese and the North Koreans, by the way,” said Buyak. “The only reason this is noteworthy is because they never do this anymore, and so we must ask, ‘Why now?'”
Tensions have continued to rise between the United States and Russia.
Several Americans have hoped that President Donald Trump’s friendship with Russia would solve all the tension between the two countries, but that may not be the case.
Trump’s reaction was to joke about blowing up the ship.
At a marathon news conference held on Thursday, Feb. 17, Trump said, “The greatest thing I could ever do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles out of the shore out of the water. Everybody’s going to say, ‘Oh, that’s so great;’ that’s not so great… I would love to get along with Russia.”
Trump did not give a definitive plan on how to approach the issue.
“I love to negotiate things, I do it really well, but it’s possible I won’t be able to get along with Putin,” said Trump.
El-Eid pointed out that, although Trump did comment regarding the situation, he did not take action.
“The fact of the matter is, he did nothing,” said El-Eid. “I don’t recall that the U.S had done anything through diplomatic channels or anything like that. So yeah, it’s symbolic, but I don’t think it threatens the security of the United States in any way.”
Many wonder whether the reaction to the spotting would be different if the spy ship had belonged to a nation other than Russia. The U.S. would probably have reacted in a different manner; the U.S. is more sensitive to international concerns with other countries such as Iran and North Korea. This is due to the dangerous circumstances certain countries have provoked that have affected the U.S.
Trump seems to pay more attention to Russia than he does for other countries, as he appears to long for a positive relationship with the country.
On Friday, Feb. 17, the same ship was anchored near the U.S. Navy Base in Norfolk, Virginia, on its way south. This Navy Base in Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base. The ship was spotted loitering.
The U.S. is still unsure of the outcome or reasoning behind the Russian spy ship appearing off the cost.