A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday in the latest military provocation by Moscow over the Baltic Sea, the U.S. European Command said Saturday.
“On April 14, a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft flying a routine route in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez.
“This intercept comes shortly after the unsafe Russian encounters with USS Donald Cook,” he added. “There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behavior.”
Hernandez said the U.S. aircraft, a militarized Boeing 707 jet, was operating in international airspace “and at no time crossed into Russian territory.”
The mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party asserts that Russia “humiliated” an “arrogant” United States with its warplane passes near a U.S. missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, an incident that the Pentagon described as a “simulated attack”.
Video released by the U.S. military yesterday shows two Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes conducting repeated close attack passes near a U.S. guided missile destroyer which was located about 70 nautical miles away from Russian territory.
U.S. military officials later described the maneuvers as some of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory.
However, an editorial in the Global Times, an official mouthpiece for China’s ruling Communist Party, characterizes the incident as a huge blow to American prestige.
“The Russian pilots have demonstrated high professional skills to conduct such extremely dangerous maneuvers,” states the editorial. “The US military, which intends to provoke Russia in the Baltic Sea, was humiliated by its Russian counterpart instead. The US must feel furious.”
The piece goes on to portray the warplane activity as an “embodiment of Putin,” who has helped achieve a power balance between Russia and the United States by repeatedly standing up to “arrogant US pressure”.
Moscow will continue to use military provocations to challenge Washington even as its economy crumbles, asserts the editorial.
The fact that China, which is still embroiled in tensions with the U.S. over America’s involvement in the South China Sea dispute, is praising Russia’s willingness to use its military muscle to antagonize Washington, is perhaps not a great sign of things to come.
As Reuters reported last year, the Global Times is an, “Influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily,” therefore reflects the views of top Chinese government officials.