10:13 Apr. 14, 2016
Russia says its pilots have observed all the required safety measures
A Russian military jet came within a few feet of a US destroyer in international waters in the Baltic Sea during a series of "aggressive" overflights, U.S. officials said Wednesday (April 13), according to AFP.
Russian aircraft repeatedly buzzed the USS Donald Cook this week, including an incident Tuesday (April 12) in which a Russian Su-24 flew just 30 feet (nine meters) above the ship in a "simulated attack profile," the U.S. military's European Command said.
"We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers," EUCOM said in a statement.
"These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries and could result in a miscalculation."
The incidents come at a time of friction between Moscow and Washington over Russian involvement in conflicts in eastern Ukraine and in Syria, and in an area of eastern Europe that the Kremlin considers its "backyard."
EUCOM released video showing warplanes zooming so close past the Cook that one sailor can be heard saying: "He is below the bridge wing," meaning the plane was flying lower than the highest point of the ship.
A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "This is more aggressive than anything we've seen in some time."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the overflights "entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international waters and international airspace."