Russia has rejected complaints by US officials who claimed attack planes buzzed dangerously close to a Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea.
Two Russian warplanes repeatedly buzzed a US Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea earlier this week in what American officials described as a “simulated attack”.
At one point, the Su-24 attack planes came so close to the ship – an estimated 30ft – that they created wakes in the water around it.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, said the pilots of Russian Su-24 jets saw the ship and turned back “while using all measures of precaution.” Konashenkov said he was baffled by what he described as the “distressed reaction of our American counterparts.”
The Russian planes appeared to be unarmed but did not respond to attempts to contact them by the crew of the USS Donald Cook.
He said the ship was operating in international waters 70 nautical miles off the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. It had departed the Polish port of Gdynia on Monday.It is currently unclear whether the US government will formally protest to Russia. US Navy photographs of the incident have not been released.
On Monday, a pair of Russian Su-24 planes made 20 passes over the ship, coming as close as 1,000 yards at an altitude of about 100 ft.
A Polish helicopter aboard the Cook was scheduled to conduct flight operations but those manoeuvres were cancelled because of the Russian actions, the official said.
On Tuesday, a Russian KA-26 submarine-hunting helicopter circled the Cook seven times, taking photographs, he added.
Later that day, another pair of Su-24 attack planes, apparently unarmed, buzzed the Cook 11 times.
The incident comes after months of continuing diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s role in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
Additional reporting by AP