Pentagon Protests Russian Jet Buzzing Antimissile Ship in Black Sea

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 15, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

The Pentagon on Monday cri­ti­cized a Rus­si­an jet’s re­peated buzz­ing of a U.S. an­ti­mis­sile ship sail­ing in in­ter­na­tion­al wa­ters in the Black Sea.

The ac­tion happened on Sunday and in­volved a nuc­le­ar-cap­able — but un­armed — Su-24 fight­er air­craft that made a total of 12 fly­ing passes close to the Ae­gis-equipped USS Don­ald Cook while it con­duc­ted patrol op­er­a­tions in the west­ern Black Sea, the De­fense De­part­ment told re­port­ers.

“The air­craft did not re­spond to mul­tiple quer­ies and warn­ings from Don­ald Cook, and the event ended without in­cid­ent after ap­prox­im­ately 90 minutes,” de­part­ment spokes­man Army Col. Steve War­ren was quoted as say­ing in a Pentagon press story. “This pro­voc­at­ive and un­pro­fes­sion­al Rus­si­an ac­tion is in­con­sist­ent with in­ter­na­tion­al pro­to­cols and pre­vi­ous agree­ments on the pro­fes­sion­al in­ter­ac­tion between our mil­it­ar­ies.”

A second Su-24 ac­com­pan­ied the first Rus­si­an fight­er jet but did not make any passes, War­ren said.

The U.S. mis­sile des­troy­er was re­deployed to the Black Sea in re­cent days in ac­cord­ance with the Pentagon’s ef­forts to as­sure NATO mem­bers and oth­er coun­tries of a U.S. com­mit­ment to their se­cur­ity. The ship’s de­ploy­ment comes amid con­tinu­ing ten­sions with Rus­sia over Mo­scow’s an­nex­a­tion of Ukraine’s Crimean Pen­in­sula and sus­pec­ted in­volve­ment in in­sur­gent ac­tions in the east­ern part of the coun­try.

The USS Don­ald Cook is home-por­ted in Rota, Spain, and is the first of four Ae­gis ships slated for de­ploy­ment in the Medi­ter­ranean as part of the U.S. con­tri­bu­tion to NATO mis­sile de­fense.

“The Don­ald Cook is more than cap­able of de­fend­ing it­self against two Su-24s,” War­ren said.

The Rus­si­an de­fense min­istry last week spoke out against the de­ploy­ment of the war­ship to the Black Sea, say­ing it demon­strated that U.S. an­ti­mis­sile sys­tems in Europe are aimed at un­der­min­ing Rus­sia’s nuc­le­ar de­terrent.

War­ren sug­ges­ted the Su-24 pi­lots were act­ing with some form of ap­prov­al from the Rus­si­an mil­it­ary. “I would have dif­fi­culty be­liev­ing that two Rus­si­an pi­lots, on their own, would choose to take such an ac­tion,” the spokes­man said.

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