Update: Responding to allegations its jet had made “provocative” maneuvers, Moscow countered that the US spy plane flying toward the Russian border made a “provocative turn” toward a fighter jet, which had been scrambled for an interception mission. As noted earlier, the Pentagon claimed the Russian jet had approached the US plane in a “provocative, erratic” way. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that a Baltic Fleet Su-27 jet was scrambled on Monday to intercept what turned out to be US RC-135 spy plane flying towards the Russian border.
“While being escorted, the RC-135 attempted to move closer towards the Russian interceptor, making a provocative turn towards the Su-27,” a statement by Russian defense officials reads.
The Russian pilot “reacted to the RC-135 maneuver” and continued to escort the spy plane until it turned away from the Russian border. On Tuesday, US media reported that a Russian Su-27 came within “five feet” feet the US spy plane.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said that “all flights of Russian interceptors over international waters of the Baltic Sea are carried out strictly in accordance with international rules.”
“Regarding the alleged ‘provocativeness’ of the flight, we’d like to stress that in just 10 minutes [after the incident] another RC-135 entered the same zone and it was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 as well,” the ministry said and noted that during the past week, US and NATO reconnaissance planes have carried out more than a dozen flights over the Baltic Sea “for reconnaissance purposes in close proximity to the Russian border.”
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Just two days after a US fighter jet shot a Syrian army aircraft out of the sky, and Russia halts cooperation with US military, an armed Russian fighter jet buzzed a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in the Baltic Sea on Monday, two U.S. officials told Fox News.
In the latest in a long series of close encounters, FOX News reports the Russian Su-27 jet had missiles under its wings and approached the U.S. Air Force RC-135 recon jet “rapidly,” coming within five feet of the American aircraft, the officials said.
Once alongside, the Russian jet was “provocative” in its flight maneuvers and flying “erratically,” according to another official.
Since June 2nd there have been over 35 interactions in the Baltic Sea region between U.S. and Russian jets and warships, but the incident Monday morning is notable because the U.S. military considered it “unsafe,” according to one official.
As FOX notes, it was not immediately clear how close the US military recon jet was flying near Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between NATO allies Poland and Lithuania. This fall, Russian moved nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, putting some European capitals in strike range.
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