A jet from Russia reportedly barrel-rolled dangerously close over a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane flying over the Baltic Sea last week.
According to CNN, the incident between Russia and the U.S. occurred last Thursday in international air space. The RC-135 reconnaissance plane was doing a routine flight, and Russia had a jet, an SU-27 fighter, which “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” too close to the U.S. plane.
European Command claims Russia began a barrel roll at the left side of the U.S. reconnaissance plane, went over the top of the plane, and then ended on the right side of the U.S. plane.
Russia says that the incident did not occur in any way “consistent with reality” and all maneuvers were “performed strictly in accordance with the international regulations on the use of airspace.”
Russia’s ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the jet from Russia was dispatched after a target was reported to be approaching the border of Russia over the Baltic Sea at high speed. Once the plane from the U.S. was identified and got a visual of the jet from Russia, it “changed its course to the opposite direction, away from the Russian border.”
Russia says no incidents were recorded when the two aircraft encountered each other.
However, the Pentagon claims this is just one of several incidents which have occurred recently between the U.S. and Russia.
USA Today reports that the incident came just two days after aircraft from Russia buzzed a U.S. warship more than once in the same area. The USS Donald Cook, a destroyer operating in the Baltic Sea, had to stop flight operations because of the Russian activity overhead.
Two Su-24s from Russia buzzed the ship. One jet was said to have come as close as 30 feet to the warship.
“There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behavior.”
Russia also denied any wrongdoing in that incident and said its pilots “fully observed all safety measures.”
The Pentagon takes these issues very seriously and has raised concerns that an accident could do damage between Russia and the U.S. and their delicate relationship.
“The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries,” the Pentagon said.
The U.S. government is protesting the actions of the pilots from Russia through diplomatic channels to the government of Russia.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic forces analyst who specializes in the affairs of Russia, said of recent incidents, “It is a major escalation of Russian aggressiveness although it fits into a pattern of Russian activity that goes back years. The Russian Defense Ministry reaction was blatantly dishonest.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the actions of military planes from Russia as dangerous and provocative.
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