Shocking footage released by the Pentagon shows a Russian fighter jet buzzing past a U.S. Navy spy plane flying through international airspace.
The footage shows a Russian Su-27 jet flying within five feet of the EP-3 Aries aircraft as the planes were flying in international airspace over the Black Sea.
Footage of the incident has already attracted more than 1.5 million views on YouTube:
“This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27’s 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’s 6th Fleet said in a statement.
“The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents on and Over the High Seas (INCSEA),” it continued. “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added that the U.S. noted with the “highest level of concern the latest incident of unsafe Russian military practices,” and she accused Russia of “flagrantly violating” international agreement.
“While the U.S. aircraft was operating under international law, the Russian side was flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law, in this case the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA).”
“This is but the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements,” she added. “We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions.”
Meanwhile, Russian Defense Ministry claimed they behaved “strictly in accordance with international airspace rules” and “approached the aircraft at a safe distance” to identify it as it approached the border of Russian airspace.
Last November, Russia unsafely intercepted a US P-8A Poseidon by repeatedly crossing its flight path, causing the plane to experience “a 15-degree roll and violent turbulence,” and the U.S. has intercepted aircraft crossing over coalition airspace in Syria as Russian troops continue to support the Assad regime.
Russia has also repeatedly angered Turkey by crossing into its airspace, an issue which came to a head in 2015 when Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near its border with Syria. They later denied knowing the plane was Russian.