Photo via CBS/WJZ-13

A Russian vessel capable of spying on the United States has been spotted off the coast of Maryland, raising questions about what it was doing there.

According to CBS and others, the SSV-175 Viktor Leonov was seen yesterday in international waters, 70 miles off the coast of Delaware and Maryland, and then again yesterday 30 miles south of Groton, Conn.

The vessel was reportedly traveling from Cuba up the East Coast to a station in Connecticut and then was expected by Pentagon officials to head back south to the Caribbean. A U. S. official told Fox News it was “loitering.” This is the first such sighting since Donald Trump became president last month.

According to The New York Post, the Leonov’s proximity to the coast is widely seen as a “military provocation” by the Russians at a time when the Trump administration is drawing questions about its relationship with President Vladimir Putin. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned this week after disclosures about inappropriate contact between him and a Russian official.

Last seen near the U.S. in 2015, the Leonov is armed with surface-to-air missiles and is capable of intercepting communications and measuring U. S. Navy sonar capabilities, which is why it has been dubbed a spy ship.

According to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the sighting is “part of a pattern of continued Russian boldness.”

Russia “is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach,” Murphy tweeted. “Questions are obvious: Does it, and if so, why?”

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.