The US Navy has denounced the “unsafe” actions of Russia’s military after a Russian SU-27 fighter jet flew within 1.5 metres of a US surveillance plane over the Black Sea.
The US Navy EP-3 Aries aircraft was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 jet flying in international airspace on Monday (local time), the US Navy said in a statement.
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 closing to within 5 feet [1.5m] and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path,” it said.
The encounter lasted two hours and 40 minutes.
The Pentagon said the US aircraft was, “operating in accordance with international law” and did not provoke Russian activity.
“The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents,” it said.
Russia’s Defence Ministry confirmed the US aircraft did not violate Russian airspace.
“After the surveillance plane of the US Navy had changed its course to move away from the border … the SU-27 returned to its base,” RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying.
It is not the first time Moscow has drawn the ire of Washington.
The US military has reported several “unsafe” interactions with Russian jets in the skies over the Black Sea in recent months.
Last November, the US military said a Russian fighter jet flew within 50 feet of a US reconnaissance plane, causing the aircraft to tilt 15 degrees.
In May 2017, a Russian jet came within 20 feet of a US surveillance plane in the same region.
The Pentagon has stepped up its reconnaissance flights in the Black Sea since 2014 when Russia seized Crimea.