The Pentagon says China will return a U.S. Navy underwater drone after it snatched the unmanned underwater vehicle this week in international waters in the South China Sea.

“We have registered our objection to China’s unlawful seizure of a U.S. unmanned underwater vehicle operating in international waters in the South China Sea,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States.”

Earlier, the Chinese defense ministry said it would return the drone, but not without taking a shot at the U.S.

“China and the United States have been communicating about this process. It is inappropriate — and unhelpful for a resolution — that the US has unilaterally hyped up the issue. We express our regret over that,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Sr. Col. Yang Yujun said, according to CNN.

Earlier in the day, President-elect Trump chimed in on the dispute, accusing China of stealing the drone.

“China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented [sic] act,” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning.

He later deleted the tweet and sent it out again with the correct spelling for “unprecedented.”

A Chinese warship took the unmanned underwater vehicle on Thursday about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, was about to retrieve it, Capt. Jeff Davis said Friday.

The Bowditch had stopped to recover two “ocean glider” unmanned underwater vehicles when a Chinese ASR-510 Dalang III-class ship came within 500 yards of Bowditch, put a small boat in the water and picked up one of the drones. The Americans demanded it back over bridge-to-bridge radio. China acknowledged the radio communications, proving there were no technical issues with the radio, but ignored the request, Davis said.

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The Bowditch is a civilian-manned Navy ship. The ocean glider is “completely unclassified,” Davis said, and collects information like salinity, water temperature and clarity of the water in the ocean.

The State Department later filed an official demarche with China.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain blamed the “fragrant violation of the freedom of the seas” on the Obama administration for failing to provide a strong stance in the face of such provacative behavior.

“This brazen provocation fits a pattern of increasingly destabilizing Chinese behavior, including bullying its neighbors and militarizing the South China Sea,” McCain, R-Ariz., said Friday. “And this behavior will continue until it is met with a strong and determined U.S. response, which until now the Obama administration has failed to provide. Freedom of the seas and the principles of the rules-based order are not self-enforcing. American leadership is required in their defense. But that leadership has been sorely lacking.”

Jacqueline Klimas and Susan Ferrechio contributed to this report

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