Russia: If U.S. Navy pilots can't handle buzzing, stay out of the Black Sea

The Russian defense ministry said if U.S. pilots are "depressed" over Russian planes protecting its borders, they should fly other routes

Doug Stanglin

Only days after the U.S. accused a Russian plane of dangerously buzzing a U.S. military plane in the Black Sea, the Russian defense ministry said Thursday that if U.S. pilots are depressed over Russian planes protecting its borders, they should fly other routes.

The incident Monday, as reported by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, involved a Russian Su-27 flying within five feet of an EP-3 Aries before crossing through the U.S. aircraft’s flight path and forcing it to fly through the Su-27’s flight wash, according to Military Times.

It was the second such incident in three months. In late November, a P-8A Poseidon was left in another Russian jet’s afterburners, causing the Poseidon to roll 15 degrees and experience "violent turbulence," Military Times reported.

The latest incident, which lasted about two hours and 40 minutes, occurred as the Aries was flying in international airspace, the Navy said.

The Aries, used for intelligence and reconnaissance, did not provoke the response, according to the Navy statement.

"The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave with international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents," the Navy statement said. "Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions."

The Russian defense ministry shrugged off the complaint and chided the U.S. over its concern.

"The Aerospace Force will continue to maintain reliable protection of Russia’s airspace," the defense ministry said, according to the Tass news agency. "If the awareness of this is a reason for U.S. air pilots to feel depression or succumb to phobias, we advise the U.S. side to exclude the routes of such flights near Russian borders in the future or return to the negotiating table and agree on their rules," the defense ministry said

The U.S. State Department also weighed in after Monday's incident, accusing the Russians of "flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law."

"This is but the latest example of Russian military activities disregarding international norms and agreements," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in the statement. "We call on Russia to cease these unsafe actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, danger to aircrew on both sides, and midair collisions."

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