A Russian Su-27 Flanker warplane came within a hair-raising ten feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon plane over the Black Sea on Wednesday, in what U.S. defense officials described as an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept.
“We have deep concerns when there is an unsafe maneuver. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident which results in serious injury or death,” stated a defense official quoted by the Washington Examiner.
Fox News reports that “a classified photo of the close call exists, but officials have not decided whether to release it.”
“Russia’s actions in recent years – with its violations of Ukrainian and Georgian territorial integrity, its unprofessional behavior in the air, in space, and in cyber-space, as well as its nuclear saber-rattling – all have demonstrated that Russia has clear ambition to erode the principled international order,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during an appearance at Oxford University, shortly after the unsafe Russian intercept occurred.
Carter criticized the Russians for “trying to play by their own rules,” and accused them of wanting to escalate the violence in Syria, while Secretary of State John Kerry attempts to negotiate a cease-fire agreement.
Voice of America News quotes the Russian defense ministry claiming it dispatched the Su-27 “after the U.S. aircraft approached the Russian border and turned off its transponders, which are used for identification.”
“After the Russian fighters approached the reconnaissance aircraft for visual inspection and identification of the aircraft registration numbers, the American planes abruptly changed course and flew in the opposite direction from the Russian border,” said the Russians, insisting their pilot acted in “strict accordance with international rules.”