A Russian fighter jet came within 10 feet of a US aircraft
Russia has a long history of similar intercepts, which the Pentagon has protested
A Russian fighter jet made an “unsafe close-range intercept” of a US aircraft over the Black Sea Wednesday, coming within 10 feet of the American plane.
Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said the potentially dangerous incident, involving a Russian SU-27 jet and a US Navy P-8A Poseidon plane, lasted 19 minutes.
A US official told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the Russian plane came within 10 feet of the P-8 at one point. Davis added that the US plane was conducting routine operations in international airspace at the time.
“These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions, and could result in a miscalculation or accident,” Davis said in a statement.
The US has long protested Russian intercepts of its aircraft; there have been several this year.
On two separate occasions in April, Russian SU-27 fighters performed “barrel rolls” over American KC-135 planes flying above the Baltic Sea.
Russian officials have defended the actions of their pilots in the past, but have yet to comment on the most recent incident.
Tensions have been ratcheted up in the Black Sea recently as Russia began five days of military exercises Monday involving 12,500 personnel and its Black Sea fleet based in Crimea, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 an event that has subjected Russia to international sanctions.
The Russian Defense Ministry posted a video Thursday on its Facebook page showing Russian fighter crews based in Crimea conducting an intercept drill.
The latest incident also comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are due to meet Thursday to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria.