WASHINGTON – Two nuclear-powered Russian attack submarines have been patrolling in international waters off the East Coast for several days, in activity reminiscent of the Cold War, defense officials said Tuesday.
U.S. Northern Command would not comment on the Russian submarines’ movement. But in a prepared statement, Northern Command spokesman Michael Kucharek acknowledged the patrols and said the U.S. has been monitoring the two submarines.
Two senior U.S. officials said the submarines had been patrolling several hundred miles off the coast and so far had done nothing to provoke U.S. military concerns. The officials provided details on condition of anonymity.
While the incident raises eyebrows, it did not trigger the more intense reaction by the U.S. military that Russia prompted when two of its bombers buzzed an American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific in February 2008. U.S. fighter planes intercepted the two Russian fighters, including one that flew directly over the USS Nimitz twice at an altitude of about 2,000 feet.
The latest incident, which was first reported by the New York Times, comes amid increased Russian military activity in the region, and as the Obama administration works to thaw tense relations with Moscow over plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe.
Officials said they became aware of the most recent submarine activity off the East Coast early on through intelligence sources and were not notified by Moscow in advance of the patrols. They said the submarines have not crossed into U.S. waters, which extend 12 miles out into the ocean.