Russian fighter jets were scrambled as US spy planes tried to approach Russia’s border over the Black Sea twice on Wednesday.
According to an official statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry, the Russian planes performed in strict adherence to international flight safety
They said that Russia had to scramble Crimea-based Su-27 fighter jets on Wednesday to intercept US spy planes making attempts to approach Russian airspace over the Black Sea while flying with their transponders switched off.
US officials said that there were multiple interactions between two aircraft and called the intercept by the Russian jet “unsafe and unprofessional.”
“On September 7, the US P-8 Poseidon surveillance airplanes tried to approach the Russian border twice… with their transponders off,” Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
The SU-27 fighter jets that intercepted the US aircraft were acting “in strict accordance with international flight rules,” the statement reads.
Two unnamed US defense officials earlier accused Russian jets of carrying out an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of the US spy aircraft, which was on a “regular patrol” over the Black Sea. The officials were speaking of the incident with Reuters.
They said the Russian SU-27 came within about 3 meters of the US plane, and the standoff lasted for about 19 minutes.
“They’re up there for 12 hours and there are lots of interactions. But only one of the incidents was what the pilot determined was unsafe,” a US official told Reuters.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that after the Russian jets approached the US spy planes close enough to visually identify them, the American aircraft sharply changed direction and flew away from the border. The ministry added that it was just the latest attempt by US aircraft to approach the Russian border close to the region where the massive Caucasus-2016 drills are being held.
The ministry stressed that there is no need for such actions, as it already officially invited military attaches from 60 countries, including NATO members, as well as more than 100 foreign journalists, to attend the final stage of the drills.