Russian fighter jet flies five feet from US spy plane

Updated 3:23 PM EDT, Tue June 20, 2017
This picture taken and released by Japan's Defence Ministry on June 11, 2014 and received via Jiji Press shows one of two Chinese Su-27 fighter jets which flew "dangerously" close to two Japanese military planes over the East China Sea. Japan accused China of flying fighter jets "dangerously" close to two of its military planes over the East China Sea on June 11, as bilateral tensions simmer over the countries' territorial dispute. On June 12, Japan summoned the Chinese ambassador to complain about the fighter jets activities.    JAPAN OUT     AFP PHOTO/Defense Ministry via Jiji Press
--- EDITORS NOTE -- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO/Defense Ministry via Jiji Press"- NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSJIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
Defense Ministry via Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
This picture taken and released by Japan's Defence Ministry on June 11, 2014 and received via Jiji Press shows one of two Chinese Su-27 fighter jets which flew "dangerously" close to two Japanese military planes over the East China Sea. Japan accused China of flying fighter jets "dangerously" close to two of its military planes over the East China Sea on June 11, as bilateral tensions simmer over the countries' territorial dispute. On June 12, Japan summoned the Chinese ambassador to complain about the fighter jets activities. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO/Defense Ministry via Jiji Press --- EDITORS NOTE -- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO/Defense Ministry via Jiji Press"- NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSJIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
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Story highlights

The Russian plane was armed and flew "erratically"

The intercept occurred amid rising tensions between the two nations

(CNN) —  

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet flew within five feet of a US Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Monday over the Baltic Sea, according to a US official, an encounter that was assessed to be “unsafe.”

The Russian plane was armed and flew “erratically,” the official added, noting that the maneuvers were deemed unsafe due in part to the proximity of the aircraft.

Fox News was first to report the incident.

Meghan Henderson, a spokesperson for European Command (EUCOM), confirmed to CNN that an intercept took place while the US aircraft was “flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea”

The Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration team fly in their Sukhoi SU-27s on February 9, 2013.
AFP/Getty Images
The Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration team fly in their Sukhoi SU-27s on February 9, 2013.

“Due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the (Russian) aircraft during the intercept, this interaction was determined to be unsafe,” she said.

Russia disputed claims that its aircraft was at fault during the encounter and said it intercepted two US reconnaissance aircraft as they “approached the Russian state border.”

“When being accompanied, the RC-135 plane made an attempt at approaching the Russian fighter jet making a provocative turn towards it,” the ministry said via TASS.

Then, 10 minutes later, a second US RC-135 entered the zone and was also intercepted by the Russian Su-27 jet, the ministry said.

There have been more than 30 interactions between Russian and US aircraft and ships near the Baltic Sea since the beginning of June, a US official told CNN. The vast majority of these encounters have been safe and professional, the official added – a point that adds to the significance of Monday’s incident.

“Russia is certainly within its right to exercise within international airspace, but we want them to respect international standards for safety to prevent accidents,” said US Navy spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis.

“The vast majority of intera