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US and Russia blame each other after warships almost collide in East Asian waters

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US and Russia blame each other after warships almost collide in East Asian waters
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U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS
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A Russian warship and an American cruiser almost collided in the East China Sea - and both countries are now blaming the other for what happened.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet said that the USS Chancellorsville, an American guided-missile cruiser, came within just 50 meters of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, forcing it to take emergency action to avoid a collision.

“The U.S guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed course and cut across the path of the destroyer Admiral Vinogradov coming within 50 meters of the ship,” a statement by the Russian Pacific Fleet read.

According to the statement, the Russian ship protested against "the unacceptable nature of such actions" over the international radio frequency and the American commanders were warned, but the US Navy doesn't agree with this version of the events.

“While operating in the Philippine Sea, a Russian Destroyer ... made an unsafe manoeuvre against USS Chancellorsville,” U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesman Commander Clayton Doss. “This unsafe action forced Chancellorsville to execute all engines back full and to manoeuvre to avoid collision", he added.

The commander dismissed the Russian claims as "propaganda", Reuters reported.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Shanahan said the US will "have military-to-military conversations with the Russians, and of course we’ll demarche them", he told reporters, referring to a formal diplomatic complaint.

The incident happened in the early hours of Friday morning in Eastern Asian waters while Russian warships were on a parallel course with a U.S. naval strike group. Admiral Vinogradov came within 15m to 30m of the USS Chancellorsville in the Philippine Sea, the US claims, while Russia says said the incident took place in the southeast of the East China Sea.

Just days ago Washington and Moscow had sparred over an allegedly unsafe spy plane intercept by a Russian fighter jet near Syria.

Alexei Pushkov, a senior Russian parliamentarian, commented on how dangerous incidents like these are on social media, writing “We’re balancing on a razor’s edge".