Democrats and their allies in the media have run with a narrative over the past year that asserts that President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are best buds forever who conspired to undermine the 2016 election so the two friends could be authoritarian leaders together, or something like that.
But that ridiculous narrative appears even more absurd than usual in the face of provocative actions by the Russian military against American military planes that could spark a serious standoff, which in turn could lead to a massively destructive conflict for all parties involved.
According to CNN, one such provocative incident occurred Monday in international airspace over the waters of the Black Sea, when a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet buzzed within five feet of a U.S. EP-3 Aries reconnaissance aircraft on a routine patrol.
The Russian fighter also flew directly through the flight path of the EP-3, forcing the American plane to fly through the dangerous turbulence of the jet engines, which prompted the reconnaissance plane to end its mission prematurely and return to base.
“This is but the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements,” stated Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the State Department. “We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions.”
Nauert also accused the Russians of “flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law.”
According to a public affairs office release from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/6th Fleet, “On Jan. 29, 2018, a U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27. 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.”
The unprovoked intercept was said to have lasted about two hours and 40 minutes, though it is unclear how much of the activity that took place during that time frame was deemed “unsafe.”
“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,” the release continued. “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”
For its part, CNN reported on a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry that insisted that its fighter jet was flown “strictly in accordance with international rules” during the intercept of what it deemed an “unidentified air target” approaching Russian airspace over neutral waters.
“The crew of the fighter jet reported the identification of the American reconnaissance aircraft and accompanied it, preventing it from violating Russian airspace, observing all necessary security measures,” the statement maintained. “The entire flight of the Russian Su-27 was strictly in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace and there were no extraordinary events.”
But this isn’t the first time “extraordinary events” such as this have occurred. Stars and Stripes reported a similar incident occurred in November of 2017, during which a Russian fighter jet crossed within 50 feet in front of a U.S. reconnaissance plan and blasted its afterburners, creating turbulence that forced the recon plane into a nearly destabilizing 15-degree roll.
In June of last year, a Russian fighter flew straight toward a U.S. surveillance plane over the Baltic Sea at a high rate of speed and with an apparent lack of control, while in another incident a Russian fighter performed a barrel-roll over top of a large U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance jet that potentially put the crews of both aircraft at risk of a collision.
It is worth noting that U.S. military reconnaissance and surveillance planes routinely fly over the Black and Mediterranean seas to provide electronic support and conduct anti-submarine patrols, and those routine patrols are also usually intercepted in international airspace by Russian aircraft. More often than not, though, those interceptions occur safely without dangerous deliberate maneuvers or close calls.
Provocative military encounters that could spark an international incident don’t exactly sound like the actions one would expect to occur between best buds who colluded with each other to secure power, but in the fever dreams of Trump haters, this incident will probably go down as a purposeful distraction to throw investigators off the trail of the obvious crimes committed … or something like that.
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