The US and Russia are currently engaged in a tit-for-tat as each side seeks to flex its muscles and demonstrate dominance and power.
A Russian fighter jet allegedly flew within 10 feet of a US Navy surveillance aircraft, in what American officials called an unsafe intercept over the Black Sea, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, says the Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter made the unsafe maneuver Wednesday near a US Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft that was conducting routine operations in international airspace.
Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement Wednesday that the Poseidon aircraft did not have its transponders turned on, and that it approached Russia’s southern border twice.
He said Russian jets were deployed to intercept the incoming aircraft and “Russian pilots acted in strict compliance with international flight rules.”
Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, spokesman for US European Command, said the Navy Poseidon had its transponder turned on during the entire flight, following international law for flight safety.
According to the US, Russian jets conducted four intercepts of US aircraft in the last day, and the one that was considered unsafe lasted about 19 minutes.
Davis said that US Navy aircraft and ships routinely interact with Russian units in the area and most interactions are safe and professional.
“However, we have concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver like this,” he said. “These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions, and could result in a miscalculation or accident.”
Russian jets have occasionally flown close to other US aircraft and Navy ships in the region. In another dramatic incident earlier this year, Russian jets buzzed the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, coming within 30 feet of the warship.