A Russian fighter jet taunted a U.S. warship in the Black Sea making multiple, close-range passes, military officials have said.
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In a provocative move likely to raise U.S. - Russian tensions over the crisis in Ukraine the Russian Fencer jet made 12 passes, and flew within 1,000 yards of Navy destroyer the USS Donald Cook. The manoeuvres, at about 500 feet above sea level, lasted more than 90 minutes.
The rogue fighter ignored repeated radio queries and warnings using international emergency circuits issued from the bridge of the Donald Cook.
Army Col. Steve Warren, an official Pentagon spokesman, said: “This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries.”
He added that the fighter seemed unarmed and did not even come close to engaging the ship, and the passes - which took place on Saturday evening - ended without incident.
It was also reported today that a Russian Navy frigate has been shadowing the U.S. Warship. She is within visual distance but not deemed a threat to the USS Donald Cook.
Col Warren said that he was not aware of any official communication or protests by the U.S. to the Russians about incident on Saturday.
The USS Donald Cook was deployed to the Black Sea on April 10, in the wake of the Russian military takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region. The ship, which carries a fleet of helicopters, is now in port at Constanta, Romania.
Romanian President Traian Basescu visited the ship on Monday and said: “My visit to the ship is symbolic, which first of all shows our respect to our NATO allies’ reaction who have strengthened their presence in the Black Sea after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”
A second U.S. Navy warship — a frigate from the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea — is also heading to the Black Sea.