Russian fighter jets flew too close for U.S. officials' comfort to the USS Donald Cook this week
A U.S. official described the Russian maneuver as "strafing runs" without firing any weapons
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has communicated formal concerns to the Russian government about the incident in the Baltic Sea this week in which fighter jets flew very close to the USS Donald Cook.
Earnest said the countries would work to resolve differences over this episode through “well-established” military channels.
Unarmed Russian fighter jets made two extremely close overflights this week of the USS Donald Cook while it was sailing in the Baltic Sea.
The Cook “encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship,” according to a statement by European Command.
“We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers,” the statement said.
One of the Russian jets flew within 30 feet of the Cook’s ship superstructure, according to a U.S. official.
The initial reports indicated the two concerning encounters occurred Tuesday night in international waters. A third overflight, at a more acceptable distance, happened Sunday, according to a U.S. official.
The Navy released video of the incident on YouTube on Wednesday afternoon.
The ship, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, also had a Polish helicopter on board as part of routine training, according to the official, leading to some speculation in military circles that the Russians were also “sending a message to Poland,” the official said.
A U.S. official described the Russian maneuver as “strafing runs” without firing any weapons. The unarmed Russian aircraft swooped in over the deck in the same flight profile that would have been used if an attack was underway.