The Navy has publicly released a short video from an encounter where an American aircraft was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet while soaring through international airspace above the Black Sea. Published on YouTube, the clip is only a few seconds long, capturing only a fraction of the entire incident, which was said to last “two hours and 40 minutes.”
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The incident took place on Monday, and the intercept by the Russian jet was quickly labeled as “unsafe” by the US military.
An SU-27, a Russian plane, at one point came within 5 feet of a Navy EP-3 Aries aircraft, and even crossed directly into the US airplane’s flight path, forcing the EP-3 to pass through a trail of turbulence, according to the Pentagon.
Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, stated on Monday that the Russian military is “within its right” to use international airspace. However, she added that they “must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents.”
Kunze went on to say, “Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculations and midair collisions.”
The Pentagon also asserted that the EP-3 was “operating in accordance with international law.” Additionally, officials said the US aircraft did not provoke the Russian pilot.
On Monday evening, according to a report by CBS News, the US State Department also issued a statement, expressing the “highest level of concern” regarding the incident and saying that Russia “was flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law.”
“The United States notes with the highest level of concern the latest incident of unsafe Russian military practices, over the Black Sea on January 29. As confirmed by US Naval Forces Europe, a Russian SU-27 engaged in an unsafe interaction with a US EP-3 in international airspace, with the Russia pilot closing to within 5 feet and crossing directly in front of the EP-3’s flight path,” read the statement.
“While the US 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,” the statement continued.
“We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions.”