Days after the United States issued a statement and accompanying videos accusing a Russian military jet of conducting an unsafe intercept of an unarmed American surveillance aircraft, the Russian government has responded with thinly veiled insults aimed at U.S. foreign policy, and in particular, American pilots.

On Monday, the U.S. Navy issued a statement regarding yet another “unprofessional” intercept conducted by Russian fighters over the Black Sea. This region, which represents NATO’s Eastern and Russia’s Western flanks, has seen a significant increase in aerial intercepts of this sort, as Russian, American, and other NATO nations test one another’s limits over the tense region. This time, it was a Russian Su-27 fighter closing with a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries surveillance plane. The encounter is said to have gone on for two hours and 40 minutes, culminating in the Su-27 coming to within only five feet of the quad-prop aircraft, forcing it to divert and causing “violent turbulence” sustained by the Aries crew.

A U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-27,” U.S. Naval Forces Europe spokesman, Capt. Pamela Kunze told reporters. “This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the SU-27’s jet wash.”


The Navy has also released a number of videos of the intercept, clearly showing how close the Su-27 came to the unarmed aircraft.

While not shown in the released imagery, during the intercept, the Russian Su-27 executed a hard right-to-left turn from the US EP-3’s right side with an excessive closure rate and came within five feet of the EP-3’s right wingtip,” the Navy said.

“The Russian Su-27 then proceeded to enter the flight path of the US Navy EP-3, crossing within 10 feet and executing a sharp dive below, which resulted in violent turbulence for the US EP-3 and its crewmembers.”