“On Jan. 25 an RC-135 aircraft flying a routine route in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” Navy Capt. Daniel Hernandez, chief spokesman for the U.S. European Command, told the Washington Free Beacon. “We are looking into the issue.”
Defense officials said the Su-27 flew alongside the RC-135, an electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft, and then performed what they said was an aggressive banking turn away from the intelligence jet.
The thrust from the Su-27 “disturbed the controllability” of the RC-135, said one official familiar with details of the incident.
A second official said the reconnaissance aircraft was flying 30 miles from the coast—well within international airspace and far away from any Russian territory—at the time of the encounter.
The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has concluded a flight safety memorandum with Russia after holding a video conference with Russian Defense Ministry officials.
The areas of discussion included air safety over the skies in Syria as well as “the means to avoid accidents and unintended confrontation between coalition and Russian forces whenever the two sides operate in close proximity,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.
The statement made no mention of Monday’s dangerous aerial encounter.
The Black Sea encounter was the latest in a series of aggressive Russian military activities aimed coercing or harassing U.S. military aircraft and ships in both Europe and Asia.
The provocations are not limited to U.S. forces. On Tuesday, Japan’s Defense Ministry revealed that Japanese interceptor jets were scrambled to chase two Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers that approached the northern end of Japan and flew just outside that country’s airspace in maneuvers described by analysts as unusually close.
The WFB recounts several other similar incidents involving Russian fighters during the past several months.
“Much of what Russia is doing today is aimed at generating fear of Russian military power and the possibility of war,” said former Pentagon Russia expert Mark Schneider.
“That is broadcast on a daily basis in the state media and through Russian military actions,” Schneider added. “Provocations involving aircraft are now common place. Russia also tends to be paranoid concerning foreign espionage and the protection of state secrets.”
Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said Russian military activities, including aircraft flights, are an increasing concern as Moscow seeks to reemerge as a world power.
Haney voiced concerns about Russian nuclear-capable bomber flights around the world, and large-scale ground forces nuclear exercises, along with vocal statements threatening the use of nuclear weapons.
Russian military aircraft have been conducting flights in Europe without the use of air-traffic control tracking transponders, a practice Haney called “reckless.”
Russia has stepped up aggressive military activities in response to NATO’s deployment of forces closer to Russian borders following Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and continuing covert military destabilization of eastern Ukraine.
Russia announced a new military strategy in December that increases the country’s reliance on nuclear forces over conventional troops and weapons.
Russia also is expected to announce a new military doctrine, a senior Russian commander announced on Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Sergey Chvarkov, deputy chief of the general staff academy said the United States is seeking to weaken Russia and is creating new national security threats to Moscow.
What was it again that President Obama said in the 2012 debate with GOP candidate Mitt Romney about the 1980s calling and wanting its foreign policy back? We made the wrong choice in leadership back then, and it’s costing us now. Does anyone feel safer than they did seven years ago?
Russia’s latest action is just a stark reminder — among oh so many — of the critical importance of this year’s presidential elections. Our Democrat counterparts are, naturally, all whipped up over diversity in Hollywood movie awards; fueling envy and division among Americans; and promising free college tuition, rainbows and unicorns.
But how much better are we on the GOP side doing really? Who is this latest media circus serving? I’m pretty sure it’s not the American people and the future of our great republic. And probably not our own party, either.
This is not about pointing fingers or blame at a particular candidate or institution (that in and of itself is another sideshow I’ll leave to others); it’s intended simply to remind us of what should be important to all of us — no matter who we support individually in the GOP primaries.
I firmly believe we, as conservatives, CAN WIN this election IF we focus on the REAL issues facing our nation. But we must focus on them and stop letting these sideshows distract us from the substance. We must. We have the higher ground… if we choose to take it.
If you agree, share this with your friends and let’s get the focus back where it belongs!
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]