Russian Jet, US Spy Plane in Baltic Near-Miss

The US RC-135 reconnaissance plane is roughly the size of a civilian commercial aircraft.The US RC-135 reconnaissance plane is roughly the size of a civilian commercial aircraft.

A Russian jet flew within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of a US reconnaissance plane’s wing tip over the Baltic Sea on Monday, US officials say.

The encounter was deemed “unsafe” due to the Russian pilot’s “high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft”, officials said, BBC reported.

But Russia disputes the American account, saying the US plane made a “provocative” move toward their jet.

On Monday, Russia warned US jets flying in Syria would be treated as targets.

The announcement came in response to the US downing of a Syrian jet.

On Tuesday, the US military shot down an armed drone in Syria, adding to tensions between Washington and Moscow, which is allied with the Syrian government.

The intercept on Monday occurred 25 miles (40 km) from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, over international waters.

Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters: “We were flying in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this behavior.”

This is only the latest incident in a continuing pattern of near-misses where Russian and NATO aircraft have come into close proximity.

These tensions risk accident and injury but are very different to the situation in Syrian airspace where the US, its coalition allies and Russian and Syrian warplanes are all engaged in combat sorties.

Unlike in Europe there is a direct link between Russian and US commanders to avoid dangerous incidents-and although Russia is saying that this has been suspended in the wake of the US shooting down a Syrian jet-the US side insists that the channel remains open.

“The US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft had been flying with its transponder on, making it visible to other aircraft,” he added.

But Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was the US plane that behaved dangerously after it was already intercepted and was being escorted by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet.

“During the escorting, the RC-135 crew made an attempt of closing with the Russian fighter, performing a provocative turnaround toward the Su-27,” the TASS news agency quoted the Russian ministry as saying.

About 10 minutes later, another US surveillance plane arrived, and it too was intercepted by a SU-27 jet, the ministry said.

Earlier this month, the US Air Force deployed 800 troops and long range B-52 bombers to the United Kingdom to take part in joint NATO exercises.

There have been more than 30 interactions between US and Russian planes and ships in the Baltic Sea since the beginning of June, US officials tell CNN.

The majority have been deemed safe, US officials say.


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