Taiwan has said it spotted two Russian warships off its eastern coast on Tuesday and sent its own aircraft and ships to monitor the vessels’ movements.
The Ministry of National Defence said in a statement late on Tuesday that the Russian frigates had been seen “sailing from south to north in the waters off our eastern coast” as of 11pm local time (15:00 GMT).
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It added that they “departed from our response zone” in a southeasterly direction off the port city of Suao, which is home to a major Taiwanese naval base. It did not say how far the warships were from the island’s coast.
Self-ruled Taiwan reports a near-daily presence of Chinese vessels and aircraft operating around the island. Beijing claims the territory as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its objectives.
The presence of Russian warships is more unusual, however.
Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday that a detachment of ships from the Russian Pacific Fleet had entered the southern parts of the Philippine Sea after “crossing the South China Sea”.
The warships were performing tasks as part of a long-range sea crossing, which included “a simulated naval battle to repel a missile attack of a simulated enemy from the sea”, Interfax said.
Taiwan has joined the United States as well as neighbours Japan and South Korea in enacting wide-ranging sanctions against Russia following its February 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine.