A US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft has been buzzed by a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 over the Baltic Sea, the latest encounter in a series of similar incidents between the two countries’ military forces.
The incident happened on April 29, when the Russian fighter came within about 30 meters (100 feet) of the American plane and performed a “barrel roll” over it, CNN reported Friday, citing two US military officials in the Baltic Sea region.
“This unsafe and unprofessional air intercept has the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved,” Pentagon spokesman Commander Bill Urban said in a statement.
“More importantly, the unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries,” he added.
Urban noted that Washington is concerned by such moves as they “raise serious safety concerns.”
This is while on Thursday, a Russian Mig-31 supersonic jet intercepted a US Navy P-8 spy aircraft over Russia’s Far East.
The Soviet-era Mig-31, which is known as the world’s fastest supersonic jet, flew within 50 feet of the P-8, performing maneuvers that Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for the US Pacific Command, said were “safe and professional.”
Tensions between Russian and American military forces surged earlier this month after two Russian Sukhoi Su-24 warplanes performed “simulated attack” passes over the USS Donald Cook destroyer in the Baltic Sea.
Describing the move as one of the most aggressive acts in recent memory, American officials said the Russian bombers were flying so close that they caused “wakes in the water.”
Russia has accused the US of intimidation by sailing the Cook close to Russia’s border in the Baltic, warning that the Russian military would respond to any future incidents.
The US-led NATO military alliance has been deploying more troops and equipment to the Baltic States– Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania– to counter what the alliance calls “Russian aggression.”
The Baltic nations, which joined NATO in 2004, have asked the military alliance for a permanent presence of battalion-sized deployments of its troops in each of their territories, although Moscow denies any intention to attack the Baltic States.