Denmark’s military operations centre confirmed that a unit of Chinese ships was currently in Danish territorial waters.
“A Chinese frigate, a supply ship and a destroyer are passing through Danish waters. We are escorting as a part of the normal surveillance we have in our territorial waters,” Klaus Thing Rasmussen, senior duty officer at the military operations centre, told broadcaster DR.
Denmark’s military declined to disclose the exact location of the Chinese vessels.
“We sent one unit out to them last night, when they were approaching Danish waters. It will take around a day in total until they leave again near Bornholm, where they entered, and we will escort them the entire way,” Rasmussen said.
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A unit from Russia’s Baltic Sea fleet is expected to enter Danish waters within the next few days as part of the joint exercise with China.
“The Russians are sending two large nuclear units. A large submarine and a nuclear cruiser, which is a nuclear-powered warship,” Rasmussen told DR.
The Russian-Chinese joint exercise has been given the name ‘Peace Mission 2017’, according to DR’s report.
Rasmussen told the broadcaster that he did not know the aim of the military exercise.
“You should probably ask the Russians and Chinese [what it is]. Our position is that there is free passage through the Baltic Sea, and the Danish navy acts as a stopper in the gap. That means we accompany foreign state vessels as part of our surveillance of Danish waters,” he said.
Danish authorities were informed of the mission by both China and Russia. All ships have the right to free passage in accordance with the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Up to three ships are allowed to sail through outer territorial waters, and this must be done in one voyage. So they may not anchor in fjords or bays, for example,” Rasmussen said.
The Russian submarine will also be required to sail on the surface of the sea, so that it remains visible.
Chinese naval vessels have not previously participated in Baltic Sea exercises of the current scale, according to the report.