On Thursday, April 14th, a Russian SU-27 fighter “performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers” in proximity to a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft, according to a statement by U.S. European Command spokesman Danny Hernandez. This comes on the heels of a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 buzzing the U.S. destroyer USS Donald Cook on April 12th. The Russian Su-27 Flanker flew within approximately 50 feet of an RC-135U, combat electronic intelligence gathering aircraft and performed a barrel roll. Russia dismissed U.S. and European reports as “running counter to reality.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry insists that these Russian aircraft’s maneuvers were “performed strictly in accordance with the international regulations on the use of airspace.” The U.S. embassy in Moscow at first registered informal concerns, but has now filed an official protest regarding these uncomfortable encounters with the Russian military. The U.S. Mission to NATO has Tweeted on the issue, with the U.S. embassy in Moscow Retweeting the sentiment.
Russia has further stated that its air defenses had to scramble the fighter jet after a high-speed unidentified object was observed on a bearing headed for Russian airspace by way of the Baltic Sea. Once “visual contact” with the Russian Su-27 was made, the American reconnaissance plane changed its course away from Russia’s borders, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. The U.S. reconnaissance plane in question was conducting routine runs over the Baltic Sea and never entered Russian airspace. The Baltics are NATO territory, and U.S. ships and aircraft in that region are officially covered by that treaty.