Russian Spy Ship Now Off Virginia Coast

The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov is no longer off the coast of Connecticut, but has moved southward to a position northeast of Norfolk, Virginia.

The vessel’s presence 30 miles south of a U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut drew international headlines this week even though U.S. officials were not concerned by the ship’s operations, which are in international waters.

On Tuesday,the Russian spy ship had positioned itself east of Long Island about 30 miles south of the New London submarine base.

Officials said the vessel was “loitering” in the area, presumably gathering intelligence about U.S. Navy submarine operations, similar to what it did in 2014 and 2015 when it stayed for several weeks at a time close to the other U.S. Navy submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia.

But, a U.S. official said the Leonov only spent about 24 hours in the waters off of Connecticut before it began moving south sometime on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the ship was 75 miles northeast of Norfolk.

Throughout its transit up and down the Eastern seaboard this week, the Leonov has remained in international waters, well beyond U.S. territorial waters, which extend 12 miles from shore.

American officials have downplayed the presence of the Russian ship off the East Coast, noting that it has been operating in international waters and conducting missions that were common during the Cold War.

Equipped with communications gathering equipment, the Viktor Leonov is able to track the activity and movements of the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Luis Martinez