Russia intercepts US aircraft flying over the Mediterranean Sea

Posted at 9:48 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 09:58:17-04

(CNN) — A Russian aircraft intercepted a US aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea three times in just under three hours Tuesday, according to the US 6th Fleet.

“On June 4, 2019, a U.S. P-8A Poseidon aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 three times over the course of 175 minutes,” the 6th Fleet said in a statement Tuesday.

The second of the three interactions “was determined to be unsafe” due to the Russian aircraft “conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk,” it said.

The American aircraft was maintaining international standards and “did not provoke this Russian activity,” the statement continued.

“While the Russian aircraft was operating in international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents,” the 6th Fleet wrote, adding that “unsafe actions‎ increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions.”

The interaction marked another recent brush with Russian aircraft.

Last month, US F-22 stealth jets intercepted four Russian bombers and two Russian SU-35 fighter jets in international airspace off the coast of Alaska. The Russian bomber flights are seen by US military officials as part of Moscow’s effort to train its military for a potential crisis while sending a message of strength to adversaries.

-Barbara Starr and Caroline Kelly reporting for CNN

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