Russia has denied acting in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner after intercepting a US aircraft approaching its border, Sky News reports. A Russian SU-27 fighter jet performed a barrel role over the American plane as it intercepted the aircraft on Friday, according to US media.
The Russian jet came within about 100ft (30m) of the US plane as it performed the dangerous, high-speed manoeuvre, CNN reported, citing two US defence officials in the Baltic Sea region. In a statement, Russia’s Defence Ministry denied breaking international regulations, accusing the US plane turning off its transponder, needed for identification.
“All flights of Russian planes are conducted in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace,” it said. “The US Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn the transponder on for identification.” The Pentagon had said its Air Force RC-135 plane had been flying a routine route in international airspace when it was intercepted.
“This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban said in a statement. “More importantly, the unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries,” he said.
This is the latest in a series of spats between the US and Russia over military manoeuvres. Earlier this month, Russian jets buzzed a US guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea. The US military says two unarmed Russian Su-24 jets simulated attacks as they passed just metres from the USS Donald Cook, creating a wake in the water.
“There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behaviour,” Commander Urban said.