“We are tracking the Viktor Leonov’s presence off the East Coast, much like we are aware of all vessels approaching the United States,” said Navy Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a Navy spokesman.
“We respect the right and freedoms of all nations to operate in international waters in accordance with international law,” he added.
A military official said the Leonov, a ship known for conducting annual forays near sensitive U.S. military facilities off the East Coast, is currently operating off the Georgia coast near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, home to U.S. nuclear missile submarines.
The ship for the past several days was located some 20 nautical miles offshore and has been closely shadowed by U.S. military ships and aircraft, including P-8 surveillance aircraft.