HONOLULU (KHON) — The United States military is tracking a Russian vessel near Hawaii’s waters, according to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
In a statement, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command spokeswoman told WFXR’s sister station, KHON:
“U.S. Indo-Pacific Command routinely monitors air and maritime traffic in the Western Pacific to ensure security and stability of the region alongside our Allies and partners. As part of our normal daily operations, we closely track all vessels in the Indo-Pacific area of operations through maritime patrol aircraft, surface ships, and joint capabilities…I can tell you we are monitoring a Russian surface vessel operating in international waters in the vicinity of Hawaii.”
Indo-PACOM covers much of Eastern Asia, including China, North Korea, and Japan, as well as countries in the Pacific region like Indonesia, and Australia. Like the five other geographic combatant commands defined by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Unified Command Plan, Indo-PACOM “is in charge of using and integrating” all branches of the U.S. military “within its area of responsibility to achieve U.S. national security objectives while protecting national interests.” Russia falls within the “area of responsibility” for the U.S. European Command, or USEUCOM.
One retired Marine lieutenant colonel said it’s not exactly uncommon to see, but it does have the military’s attention due to the war in Ukraine.
“I have no doubt that Indo-PACOM is watching this closely, as are a number of other intelligence organizations trying to figure out exactly what it is,” retired Lt. Col. Hal Kempfer said. “They’re not just watching the ship they’re watching everything might be connected to and getting some real detail on what it’s doing, why it might be there, who they’re reporting to. All these things go into a fusion process, an analytical process, if you will, that tells us is this a threat or is it not a threat.”
Kempfer added that during the Cold War, Soviet intelligence ships would be found loitering near Hawaii and that Russia is using similar tactics to the Cold War-era Soviets in general.
“The tactics, techniques, and procedures that we saw the Soviets doing back in the Cold War seem to be resurfacing again under the Russian banner,” Kempfer said. “This looks like one of those issues that I would point to Russian intelligence ships potentially off the shore of Hawaii.”
A U.S. congressional delegation, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, visited Ukraine and Poland over the weekend. They embarked on a surprise trip to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy Saturday before traveling to Poland the next day.
Their visit came two days after U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia, more than twice the size of the initial $13.6 billion aid measure that Congress enacted early last month and now is almost drained. With the war dragging into its third month, the measure was designed to signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that U.S. weaponry and other forms of assistance weren’t going away.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.