In the second US military operation in as many days, an OC-135 observation aircraft of the US Air Force conducted an "extraordinary flight" on Thursday in the framework of the Open Skies Treaty "to reaffirm the commitment of the States. United against Ukraine, "said the Pentagon.
The flight arrived the day after the US Navy sailed the destroyer driven USS McCampbell near Peter the Great's Bay in the Sea of Japan, a move that annoyed Russia, which maintains a territorial claim on the disputed waters that did not is recognized by the US.
"The Pentagon is" reporting a counter to the latest series of Russian actions and provocations that have once again raised tensions in the region, "Peter Singer, strategist and senior fellow of the think tank New America, told CNN.
"The unprovoked attack of Russia on Ukrainian military ships in the Black Sea, near the Kerch Strait, is a dangerous escalation in an increasingly provocative and threatening pattern of activity," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said Thursday at the CNN.
"The United States seeks a better relationship with Russia, but this can not happen while its illegal and destabilizing actions continue in Ukraine and elsewhere," he said.
The strong military response to Russia in recent days underscores the silence of President Donald Trump when it comes to criticizing Russian aggression, Singer noted, pointing to the clash in the Kerch Strait as a recent example.
"What is fascinating is the total disconnection between what the Pentagon is trying to communicate to Russia and the silence of the President," he said.
But while Trump appeared reluctant to launch the full range of sanctions and diplomatic options at his disposal to counter Russia, the administration could use the army as a way to exert pressure until officials according to Boris Zilberman, a Russian expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies will not have established the right balance.
"The US Navy has the right to conduct these free navigation operations and should continue to do so," Zilberman said.
Russia continues its drive to militarize the waters near the Sea of Japan and, according to Zilberman, is trying to project a greater role in the Pacific. He said the latest US operation in the Sea of Japan could indicate a growing US concern about Russia's behavior in the Pacific.
Line in the sand
The Pentagon is probably trying to draw a line in the sand at the beginning to avoid further escalation in the region, he said.
"Russia needs to know that the United States will not allow them to militarize international water courses in key areas like the Black Sea, the Sea of Japan or Okhotsk, or elsewhere," Zilberman said. Otherwise, he added, "it should now be clear that when (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is not confronted, he will continue to act aggressively against the interests of the United States and our allies."
Amid the swirl of Russian and US activities, the president has been relatively quiet.
While world leaders denounced Russia's aggression against Ukraine ahead of the G20 summit, Trump waited more than a day before offering a mute response, leaving the task of criticizing Moscow at the outset. US ambassador outgoing to the UN.
When asked how he felt about the fight, Trump said, "It's not good, he's not happy at all." He seemed reluctant to blame Russia, adding: "We do not like what is happening in both cases and, hopefully, will be clarified."
Ultimately, however, Russia's actions and its detention of Ukrainian sailors prompted Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Putin during the G20 summit.
"Based on the fact that ships and sailors were not returned to Ukraine from Russia, I decided that it would be better for all parties to cancel my scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin," Trump tweeted by Air Force One traveling to Argentina.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at a NATO conference in Brussels, Belgium, said the alliance "will collectively develop a series of responses that show the Russians that this behavior is unacceptable".
Unlike Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis has consistently made known his views on Russia's intentions and has repeatedly warned that Putin aims to weaken NATO and the United States itself.
It was also unequivocal in its response to Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships, calling it "a flagrant violation of international law" and saying "it only proves that Russia can not be counted at this time to keep the word ".