A Russian fighter jet raised alarm bells throughout the Pentagon when it came within five feet of a United States Navy plane in international airspace over the Black Sea; forcing the US aircraft to prematurely end its mission and return to base.
Pentagon officials confirmed the incident on Monday, saying the Russian military performed an “unsafe intercept” of a US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane operating in eastern Europe and western Asia.
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27’s jet wash,” said Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze.
“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, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents on and Over the High Seas (INCSEA),” she added. “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”
The incident is the latest example of “unsafe intercepts” between Russian aircraft and NATO forces operating in the area.
Russia, the United States, NATO, and other European militaries operate in close proximity surrounding the Black Sea, particularly since Russia expanded its forces in the region four years ago during its invasion of Crimea.
h/t The Hill
COLD WAR 2: Russian Jets, US Fighters FACE OFF Over Syria
Two US fighter jets scrambled over Syrian airspace on Thursday, chasing down a pair of Russian attack aircraft after Putin’s Air Force violated an international agreement and entered US-controlled territory.
During the altercation, the American fighters fired “flares” towards the intruding jets, in a gesture known as “head butting,” a defensive maneuver to alert enemy aircraft of your presence and willingness to engage.
“U.S. military officials raised concerns about the incident through an established hotline established in the past two years between American and Russian air forces,” reports Fox News. “In recent months, Russian jets have increasingly flown in restricted areas in eastern Syria, violating long established agreements with the U.S.-led coalition.”
The United States and Russia find themselves on opposite sides of the nearly seven-year long civil war that has ravaged Syria and the Middle East, with Washington backing Syrian-rebels and Moscow supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
While the two countries support different factions, they have pledged mutual cooperation to help defeat ISIS and other terror organizations operating in the region.
COLD WAR: US Shuts Down Russian Consulate, Offices in NY and DC
The United States has ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco as well as other missions throughout the country in retaliation for the Kremlin ejecting over 750 American diplomats earlier this year, reports the Associated Press.
The US Department of State announced the closures on Thursday, adding that the US would force Russia to “scale back” its diplomatic missions in New York City as well as their embassy in the nation’s capital.
Earlier this summer, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the expulsion of 755 US diplomats from Russia.
Putin claimed the move was a protest to recently passed US sanctions against Russia over allegations the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential elections, an accusation Moscow has repeatedly denied.
“While there will continue to be a disparity in the number of diplomatic and consular annexes, we have chosen to allow the Russian Government to maintain some of its annexes in an effort to arrest the downward spiral in our relationship,” said a statement from the US State Department.
“The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased co-operation on areas of mutual concern,” it adds.