U.S. Navy Denies Russian Claims It Captured Secret U.S. Military Equipment

The U.S. Navy has denied Russia captured secret U.S. equipment from a Virginia-class nuclear submarine that was allegedly operating within the country's territorial waters.

The Moscow-based Avia.pro agency reported on Tuesday that Russia had obtained what the agency described as a sonar countermeasure device, which a U.S. Navy submarine had allegedly abandoned when it left the area.

The report comes amid tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border as the U.S. has repeatedly warned that Russian forces may be poised to invade the country.

The device was reportedly found off the island of Urup in the Kuril Island chain. The news agency claimed that the U.S. submarine had fired the device after Russian forces used a weapon against the submarine.

Eric Pahon, spokesman at the office of the Secretary of Defense, told Newsweek in a statement on Wednesday: "As we said on Saturday, the Russian claims about an alleged naval interaction in the Pacific were untrue. These additional claims are nonsense and disinformation."

Russia claimed on February 12 that one of its naval vessels had chased away a U.S. submarine operating within the country's territorial waters in the Pacific after the sub refused an order to surface.

The submarine was reportedly spotted near the location of a naval exercise by Russia's Pacific fleet. The incident is said to have taken place near Urup in the Kuril Islands.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that "the crew of the Pacific fleet's frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov used appropriate means.

"The U.S. submarine used a self-propelled simulator to split the target image on radar and acoustic control means into two parts and retreated from Russian territorial waters at a maximum speed," the ministry said.

The defense ministry also said the U.S. defense attaché in Moscow had been "summoned" over the "violation by the U.S. Navy submarine of the state border of the Russian Federation."

The U.S. Department of Defense denied the claim that a U.S. submarine had been operating in Russian waters.

"There is no truth to the Russian claims of our operations in their territorial waters," Captain Kyle Raines, spokesperson for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said in a statement.

"I will not comment on the precise location of our submarines but we do fly, sail and operate safely in international waters," Raines said.

Raines issued a statement to Newsweek on Wednesday citing a photo used by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

"The photo the Russian Ministry of Defense attributes to a U.S. submarine countermeasure is disingenuous, as the same image appeared on social media last October," Raines said.

"As OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] mentioned this week, this Russian information campaign appears to be a piece of their playbook aimed at laying a foundation for military action," Raines' statement said.

"To be clear, there was no engagement or interaction between U.S. and Russian forces Saturday as claimed by Russia. My previous statement debunking the veracity of their report remains true," he said.

President Joe Biden promised on Tuesday that he would "rally the world" if Russia invaded Ukraine.

"If Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be met with overwhelming international condemnation," the president said at the White House. "The world will not forget that Russia chose needless death and destruction. Invading Ukraine will prove to be a self-inflicted wound."

Biden also said the U.S. had not been able to confirm that Russia was pulling some troops from the Ukrainian border to their bases.

"The fact remains right now Russia has more than 150,000 troops circling Ukraine and Belarus and along Ukraine's border," the president said.

Update 02/17/22 04.11a.m. E.T: This article was updated to change the headline and include and a statement from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Update 02/16/22 6:30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add a statement from the Department of Defense.

The Marshal Shaposhnikov Pictured in 2003
A picture taken on May 22, 2003, shows the Russian warship Marshal Shaposhnikov during exercises in the Indian Ocean. Russia claims a U.S. submarine was operating within its territorial waters in the Pacific on February 12. SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images