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.

The U.S. Embassy Moscow and the U.S. Mission to NATO expressing their disdain via social media.

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.

The incident follows days after Russian Su-24s buzzed the USS Donald Cook.

Video courtesy of Eucom MediaOps, YouTube.

Moscow continues to accuse the U.S. and NATO of aggressively expanding toward Russian borders. The inherent Russian fears of the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense program, and of rebuffs on excessively assertive foreign policy; such as the opposition to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Despite recent NATO/Russian talks to expand cooperation, Russian air, and sea incursions have been on a dramatic increase, arguably to Cold War levels. Russian attack and ballistic missile submarines have also been deployed in their highest numbers in over two decades.

U.S. Naval forces in Europe and the Navy’s 6th Fleet Admiral, Mark Ferguson, exclusively told CNN: “NATO is viewed as an existential threat to Russia, and in the post-Cold War period, the expansion of NATO eastward, closer to Russia, and our military capability they view as a very visceral threat to Russia.” Russian attack and ballistic missile submarines have also been deployed in their highest numbers in over two decades.