Incident occurred over the Baltic Sea; U.S. officials say the incident was safe, but unprofessional.
A Russian fighter jet buzzed a U.S. military spy plane in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday morning, two defense officials told Fox News.
The Russian Su-27 jet performed a “safe” but “unprofessional” intercept of a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance plane while flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.
The Russian jet came within about 20 feet of the U.S. Navy aircraft, but the American pilots told officials they never felt threatened or unsafe.
A Russian Su-27 fighter as seen in this handout photo, which buzzed a U.S. military spy plane in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday. (Reuters)
It’s the first incident between Russian and American military aircraft since January, when a Russian fighter jet buzzed a U.S. Navy EP-3 spy plane over the Black Sea.
In that incident, the Russian Su-27 jet came within five feet of the U.S. military plane, “crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path,” according to a statement from the Navy’s 6th Fleet. The encounter was so close it caused the Navy jet to fly through the Russian jet’s wash.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at the time Russia’s military “flagrantly” violated international law and risked a midair collision. She called it “the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements.”
The interaction lasted approximately two hours and 40 minutes, according to the statement from the Navy’s 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy.
American and Russian jets routinely fly close to one another in the Black and Baltic Seas, but in a professional manner, according to the Pentagon.
Tensions with Russia were ratcheted up over the weekend, when the country’s foreign minister claimed the U.S. is trying to divide Syria.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.