In an unusual move, the U.S. Navy released a footage of Russian jets flying past the USS Ross destroyer in the Black Sea on Monday. The close encounter comes as tensions continue to rise over Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine crisis. The Pentagon has accused Russia of ordering threatening passes in the past few days.
Russian jets were unarmed
The U.S. Navy said it released the video to counter Russian media reports. The RIA Novosti had reported that Russian jets were scrambled to head off the U.S. warship that was acting “provocatively and aggressively.” The U.S. Navy refuted those claims, saying that the Russian jets and the USS Ross had a “routine encounter.” The Pentagon said that Ross was 25 miles off the coast of Crimea in international waters.
Contrary to Russian reports, the warship never changed its course, and proceeded on its planned mission. The video shows one of the Russian jets approaching from the distance and zooming past the ship at an estimated distance of about 500 meters. A total of six Russian planes had made a close flyby. The U.S. defense officials said that Russian aircraft were not armed. The planes were later observed returning to their base.
USS Ross posed a danger to strategic stability
Russian media reports had claimed that USS Ross was moving along the edge of Russia’s territorial waters. Last week, Russian defense minister claimed that the U.S. destroyer operating on the edge of Russia’s waters posed a “danger to strategic stability” between the two countries.
It is the latest example of military encounters between Russia and Western countries, especially after Russia annexed Crimea last year. Last month, Britain and Sweden both said that they scrambled fighter planes to intercept Russian jets. On May 21st, Swedish aircraft intercepted two Russian bombers over the Baltic Sea close to the Swedish border.
United States said last month that it had filed a complaint with Moscow over a “sloppy and unsafe interception” of a U.S. plane in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.