Russian jet came within 10 feet of U.S.
spy plane: U.S. officials
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[September 08, 2016]
By Idrees Ali and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Reuters) - A Russian
fighter jet carried out an "unsafe and unprofessional" intercept of a
U.S. spy plane over the Black Sea and came within 10 feet (3.05 meters)
of the American aircraft, two U.S. defense officials said on Wednesday.
The incident is likely to cause more tension between the United States
and Russia, who are at odds over the Syrian civil war and Ukraine.
It lasted about 19 minutes and involved a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter
and a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance plane flying a regular patrol, said one
official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"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,"
said another official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Officials were talking with the pilot and reviewing the incident to
determine whether it would be included in an annual meeting of U.S. and
Russian officials about more serious intercepts, the official added.
The Russian defense ministry said it had sent Su-27s on Wednesday to
intercept a U.S. aircraft approaching its border over the Black Sea
because the American planes had turned off their transponders, which are
needed for identification.
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There have been a number of similar incidents involving Russia and
the United States this year. In April, two Russian warplanes flew
simulated attack passes near a U.S. guided missile destroyer in the
The events are reminiscent of the Cold War, when a series of close
calls led to a bilateral agreement aimed at avoiding dangerous
interactions at sea that was signed in 1972.
In July, NATO leaders agreed to deploy military forces to the Baltic
states and eastern Poland for the first time and increase air and
sea patrols to reassure allies who were once part of the Soviet
bloc, following Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.
The 28-nation Western defense alliance decided to move four
battalions totaling 3,000 to 4,000 troops into northeastern Europe
on a rotating basis to display its readiness to defend eastern
members against Russia.
(Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly in Moscow.; Editing by G Crosse
and Alistair Bell)
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