A Russian fighter jet reportedly “buzzed” a US reconnaissance plane flying over the Black Sea in the second such incident in a week.
According to a Fox News report on Saturday, the Russian Su-27 jet flew only 40 feet from a US Navy P-8 Poseidon plane in international airspace over the Black Sea on Friday, some 100 miles from the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.
On Tuesday, an Su-27 armed with six air-to-air missiles came within 20 feet of a US reconnaissance plane, US officials told Fox News.
In another case of recent provocations by Russia earlier this month, US Air Force jets intercepted a pair of Russian Su-35 “Flanker” jets that were escorting two nuclear-capable Russian Bear bombers, also known as Tu-95 bombers, in Alaska’s Air Defense Zone, airspace that surrounds the United States and Canada.
The Russian fighter jets were not armed and remained in international airspace, officials indicated at the time.
Last month, over two consecutive days, Russia flew Tu-95 aircraft off the Alaska coast, prompting the US to scramble fighter jets on at least one occasion.
Before those incidents, Russia last flew aircraft close to the US in 2015 when bombers were seen flying close to the coasts off California and Alaska.
Last week’s incidents came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an apparent attempt to mend the frosty ties between Washington and Moscow.
Relations between the two former Cold War foes soured under former US president Barack Obama over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its unyielding support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election have also cast a shadow over ties between the two countries.
Over the past six years, Moscow and Washington have sparred multiple times over the conflict in Syria, especially concerning Assad’s fate.
Trump’s arrival to power has not brought the two sides closer — and in early April, the US even launched direct military action against the Syrian regime in retaliation for an apparent chemical attack.
Both countries have recently indicated that relations under Trump have never been so bad, though Wednesday’s meetings appeared rather cordial.
Trump “emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia,” the White House said following the US president’s meeting with Lavrov.