The Viktor Leonov CCB-175, a Russian Navy intelligence warship, is docked to a pier in Old Havana January 20, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The Russian warship Viktor Leonov CCB-175, was docked in Havana's harbor, Cuba, on Jan. 21, 2015 and on Wednesday, the Russian spy ship was off the coast of Connecticut. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A Russian spy ship was detected about 30 miles away from New London Harbor and Electric Boat. (WFSB photo)
The ship sailed into the Havana harbor early Tuesday morning on the eve of the start of historic talks between the United States and Cuba aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
GROTON, CT (WFSB) -
A Russian spy ship was spotted off the Connecticut coast on Wednesday.
The ship was seen patrolling the waters 30 miles from the Groton SUBASE. Congressman Joe Courtney, who is a ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said the sighting "underscores that the threats posed by a resurgent Russia are real.”
“This unacceptable, aggressive action, combined with the buzzing of US Navy ships in the Red Sea yesterday are clearly testing the resolve of a new administration. While I have total confidence in our Navy’s vigilant, responsible readiness, the White House needs to move past their seeming infatuation with Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace and security that he has been for the last five years," Courtney said in a statement on Wednesday.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin is reporting that the ship is AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence) and had made a port call in Cuba. Martin added that the ship, which is believed to be loaded with electronic gathering equipment, made its way up the east coast. It was seen in international waters off Delaware.
Martin said the ship is expected to get close to the Groton SUBASE before turning around and heading back toward Cuba.
Following the sighting, there was heightened security at the Groton SUBASE, but the base was never on lockdown on Wednesday.
The U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, DC told Eyewitness News they are monitoring the situation. Groton SUBASE referred all questions to the Pentagon, who is not commenting at this time.
"We need to move on and realize this is an emerging threat, we have to take all steps to respond to it," Courtney said on Wednesday.
Wednesday's sighting is not the first time that a Russian ship came close to the U.S. A few years ago, Martin said a spy ship was in the spot where the transatlantic cables are laid.
Former Connecticut Congressman Rob Simmons, who worked intelligence with the CIA and now first selectman in Stonington, is not phased by the Russian "show of muscle.”
“You have the sort of Putin, Trump election issue now you have general Flynn talking to the Russian ambassador so everybody is getting all forked up about it,” Simmons said.
It’s not the only "Russian" incident. Five days ago, Russian jets buzzed a U.S. navy destroyer in the Black Sea.
In April of 2015, a Russian spy ship was off the U.S. east coast near sensitive underwater intercontinental communication lines.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the sighting of the Russian spy ship was"not wholly unprecedented," but added "it’s part of a series of aggressive actions by Russia that threaten U.S. national security and the security of our allies."
"Just yesterday, news broke that Russia violated an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Coupled with escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine and Russian jets buzzing a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea, Putin clearly thinks the Trump administration has given him a permission slip to flex his muscles. President Trump and his administration must end their silence and immediately respond to these threats to our national security," Murphy said in a statement on Wednesday.
Murphy is a member of the ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, which includes NATO and U.S.-Russia policy. Murphy also called the president and his administration to condemn the actions of Russia after he said the country secretly deployed a ground-launched cruise missile.
Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why? https://t.co/6Hsm7T2GO2
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the presence of the ship must be regarded as serious because Russia is an increasingly aggressive adversary.
"It reflects a clear need to harden our defenses against electronic surveillance and cyber espionage," he said in a statement. "I am personally monitoring this situation and remain in close contact with both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard."
Blumenthal called the return of a Russian vessel particularly concerning in the context of escalating Russian aggression. He said this comes within days of the Russians buzzing a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea, as well as deploying a cruise missile in violation of our arms control treaty.
He said it "only underscores the need for an independent investigation into possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russian agents."
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro called the Russian spy ship patrolling in waters off eastern Connecticut sighting "alarming."
"While Russia continues to flex its muscle by deploying a cruise missile that violates a long-standing arms treaty, buzzing U.S. naval ships in international waters, and floating an intelligence ship along our coast, President Trump has failed to show leadership and condemn Vladimir Putin and his Russian regime. All of these events raise the question of why Russia has decided to make these aggressive moves now. The events of the last 48 hours highlight our nation’s severe national security crisis that must be dealt with immediately," DeLauro said in a statement on Wednesday.
DeLauro continued to question the Trump administration .
“With Michael Flynn’s illegal contact with the Russian ambassador, the Trump campaign’s conversations with Russia during the election, and the Russian government hacking e-mails, Vladimir Putin continues to make efforts to undermine our democracy. President Trump must make it very clear that American democracy and sovereignty are not open for Russian meddling and stop Vladimir Putin from engaging in these egregious actions," DeLauro said.
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said "Russia’s escalating aggression" was "a serious national security threat."
"Yet again, the Kremlin is testing the resolve of the Trump administration. It is long past time for the White House to stop making excuses for Vladimir Putin and respond to his acts of thuggery with the toughness our security demands," Esty said in a statement on Wednesday.
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