The U.S. Navy lashed out at the Russian military after it said a Russian pilot put a U.S. reconnaissance plane at risk in a confrontation over the Mediterranean Sea that took place Tuesday.
A terse release from the Sixth Fleet outlined the incident.
“On June 4, 2019, a U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 three times over the course of 175 minutes. The first and third interaction were deemed safe. The second interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-35 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” the statement read.
“The crew of the P-8A reported wake turbulence following the second interaction. The duration of the intercept was approximately 28 minutes.”
“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions,” the Sixth Fleet said.
“The U.S. aircraft was operating consistent with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.”
Russian jet intercepts American spy plane off Syria coast, U.S. says https://t.co/Fmpj5ZHGFi
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) June 5, 2019
Russia’s Defense Ministry said it did nothing wrong, The Moscow Times reported.
It said a Sukhoi Su-35 jet was scrambled from a Russian air base in Syria because a U.S. plane was approaching the Tartus naval facility on Syria’s coast, the state-run RIA news agency said.
“All flights of Russian aircraft were carried out in accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said, according to CNN.
“There were no questions or complaints from the American center of flight deconfliction line in Syria to the Russian command.”
Along with aggressive tactics by Russian pilots in international airspace, Russia has also been aggressive about sending its jets into North American airspace.
Last month, six Russian warplanes were intercepted by U.S. jets after they flew into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends for 200 miles from the state’s borders.
The Mediterranean incident came as the U.S. and its allies are busy conducting several multinational exercises in Europe, most of which are designed to protect American allies from Russian attacks.
The Baltic Operations exercise is currently taking place in Poland and the Baltic Sea until June 22, according to NATO.
The exercise, led by the U.S., is expected to include Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland as well as Baltic partners Finland and Sweden, NATO said.
NATO partners are also holding two other exercises this month. The Saber Guardian exercise, in which 27,000 people are expected to participate, will be held in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary through June 24. The Tobruq Legacy 19 drill in Poland, which involves 19 nations, will run through June 19.
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