Pentagon admonishes Russia for 'unsafe' intercept of US spy plane over Baltic Sea

Key Points
  • U.S. Navy spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said while the majority of U.S. and Russian interactions in international airspace are safe, Monday's interception was "not the norm."
  • Russia's Defense Ministry disputed the claims and suggested the U.S. Air Force plane moved "provocatively" towards their fighter jet.
This undated U.S. Air Force handout image shows a RC-135 Reconnaissance plane used to gather 'imagery intelligence (IMINT), telemetry intelligence (TELINT), and signals intelligence (SIGINT).'
Greg Davis | U.S. Air Force | Getty Images

A Russian fighter jet flew within five feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane in an "unsafe" manner over the Baltic Sea, U.S. officials have said.

The near miss occurred over international waters on Monday morning, approximately 25 miles northwest of Kaliningrad – a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania.

"Russia is certainly within its right to exercise within international airspace, but we want them to respect international standards for safety to prevent accidents," U.S. Navy spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis told reporters on Tuesday.

"The vast majority of interactions we have, intercepts that occur when we fly and that are intercepted by the Russians are safe. This is an exception, not the norm, but we were again operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke," Davis added.

However, Russia disputes the claims, saying the U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft made a "provocative" move towards their Su-27 fighter jet as it intercepted two U.S. planes "flying towards the Russian state border."

"When being escorted, the RC-135 plane made an attempt at approaching the Russian fighter jet making a provocative turn towards it," the TASS state news agency quoted Russia's defense ministry as saying on Tuesday.

There have been over 30 interactions between Russian and U.S. aircrafts and ships close to the Baltic Sea since the beginning of the month, CNN reported.