US and Russian warplanes operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea flew dangerously close to each other in three separate incidents last weekend, including one that flew about five feet apart. , Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The close calls, which occurred in international airspace on Friday and Saturday, involved three Russian Su-35 jet fighters that entered the flight path of three US P-8A surveillance planes. , the official said.
The incidents, which were previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, come amid rising tensions between the United States and Russia over Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has massed troops on Ukraine’s border, demanding assurances that the country never join NATO, while President Biden has threatened sanctions if the Russians invade.
Defense Department officials said two of the aerial encounters were deemed unsafe and the third was unprofessional.
“We have communicated our concerns to Russian officials through diplomatic channels,” Navy Captain Mike Kafka, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email.
“Although no one was injured, such interactions can lead to miscalculations and mistakes that lead to more dangerous outcomes.”
The Navy P-8A is a slow-flying maritime patrol aircraft used primarily for surveillance missions. In contrast, the Russian Su-35 is a jet fighter that flies about three times faster and is designed to launch offensive weapons.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/world/europe/us-and-russian-warplanes-flew-dangerously-close-to-each-other.html American and Russian warplanes fly dangerously close to each other.