The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that a Baltic Fleet Su-27 jet was scrambled on Monday to intercept what turned out to be US RC-135 spy plane flying towards the Russian border.
“While being escorted, the RC-135 attempted to move closer towards the Russian interceptor, making a provocative turn towards the Su-27,” a statement by Russian defense officials reads.
The pilot of the Russian plane “reacted to the RC-135 maneuver” and continued to escort the spy plane until it turned away from the Russian border.
Earlier on Tuesday, US media reported that a Russian Su-27 came within several feet of a US RC-135 spy plane. Fox News, citing military officials, said the jet came “within five feet.”
The Russian plane was “flying at a high rate of speed” and the pilot had “poor control of the aircraft,” a spokesman for the US European Command, Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez, said, as cited by AP.
According to Hernandez, the incident took place on Monday, when the RC-135 was on a “routine” mission over the Baltic Sea in international airspace.
The Russian Defense Ministry argued that “all flights of Russian interceptors over international waters of the Baltic Sea are carried out strictly in accordance with international rules.”
The ministry noted that during the past week, US and NATO countries’ reconnaissance planes have carried out more than a dozen flights over the Baltic Sea “for reconnaissance purposes in close proximity to the Russian border.”