Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Russia says US plane provokes its jet over Baltic Sea

A US reconnaissance plane performed a provocative maneuver against a Russian fighter over the Baltic Sea during an encounter on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

According to the statement, Russia scrambled a Su-27 fighter to intercept a target flying over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea toward the Russian border, which was then identified as a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft.

When being escorted, the US plane attempted to approach the Russian jet and made a "provocative" turn toward the Su-27, said the statement.

The Russian pilot reacted to the maneuver and then continued to escort the reconnaissance plane until it changed its route and flew away from the Russian border, it said.

Shortly after the incident, another US RC-135 entered the zone and it was also intercepted by a Russian Su-27.

However, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis denied the Russian accusation, saying "We were operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this behavior."

Earlier in the day, US European Command spokeswoman Meghan Henderson said the Russian Su-27 came "within several feet" of the US RC-135, calling the intercept unsafe because of the "high rate of closure speed" and the "poor control of the aircraft" by the Russian pilot.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, over the past week, reconnaissance aircraft of the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization carried out more than 15 flights over the Baltic Sea near the Russian border.

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