“Russia acted recklessly in international airspace over the Black Sea. We call on Russia to cease its unsafe, irresponsible, and aggressive behavior,” stated Acting Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Heather Nauert on Thursday.
As the Pentagon stated earlier, a Russian fighter jet carried out an “unsafe interception” of an American reconnaissance aircraft flying in international air space over the Black Sea. The Russian SU-27 jet failed to establish radio contact and made two “really close” passes before engaging afterburners that rattled the American EP-3 Aries, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told reporters.
“There’s just absolutely no reason for this type of behavior,” Pahon said. The American plane was conducting a routine mission in international airspace when the Russian plane “came out of nowhere,” Pahon added. In a press release, the US Navy said the actions were “irresponsible” and put the pilots and crew at risk.
“We expect [Russian pilots] to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents,” the Navy added.
The Russian embassy in Washington tweeted that the Russian crew was "preventing a violation of Russian airspace and followed all necessary safety procedures."
The Russian Defense Ministry, in turn, stated that the Russian fighter jet took off to intercept the US Navy aircraft that had approached Russian borders and accompanied it at a safe distance. According to the Russian military, after the American EP-3 changed course and started moving away from the Russian border, the Su-27 returned to base.
The last time a Russian military aircraft performed an unsafe intercept over the Black Sea was in January, when another SU-27 jet came within two meters of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane.