The Russian intelligence ship SSV-175 Viktor Leonov, a small intelligence collection ship, is reportedly some 70 miles off the coast of Delaware this evening, slowly moving north along the American coast, but well out in international waters in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Viktor Leonov recently docked in Havana, Cuba, the first visit in two years, and CBS News is claiming the ship is expected to head north to New London, CT before turning south and heading back toward Cuba, though it’s unclear where they got this itinerary.
It would not be that unusual for a Russian ship, in making a rare visit to Cuba, to make a little tour of the American coast just to underscore its presence. The intelligence ship has some limited signal intelligence gathering capabilities, but it is unclear the ship is actually doing anything beyond being there.
US Navy officials appear largely unconcerned, noting that Russia has every right to have a ship in international waters but that “we are keeping our eyes on it.” During the Cold War, Russian intelligence ships tended to park off the coast near US naval bases, though in this case that does not appear to be the case, and the ship is just slowly navigating the area.