If a Russian jet flies in provocative way over a U.S. Navy destroyer that might be an accident. But if two Russian jets fly over a U.S. Navy destroyer several times, that is a pattern — and a seemingly provocative event. That’s what just occurred in the Western Black Sea and it raises the question: are we back to the old brinkmanship days?
Two Russian fighter jets made “provocative” moves near a U.S. Navy destroyer in the western Black Sea on Saturday morning, a Pentagon official said Monday.
The Su-24 jets were unarmed, though one made “numerous close-range, low-altitude passes” near the USS Donald Cook, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said.
Warren would not specify how close the Russian fighter got to the U.S destroyer but said, “It was close enough to be provocative and unprofessional.”
The jet made as many as 12 passes by the ship, but did not pass over its deck, Warren said. The Associated Press said the jet came within 1,000 yards of the destroyer.
That is extremely close.
The USS Donald Cook, which arrived in the Black Sea last week, made several attempts to contact the pilots with no response. The episode lasted 90 minutes, Warren said.
Warren would not specify whether sailors onboard went to their battle stations, but he added that the Cook “remains prepared to defend herself.”
Military officials say it appears the plane was not armed with any aerial bombs, but the actions were still in violation of several international protocols.
While military officials consider the incident “provocative and unprofessional,” they say the encounter ended without incident.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.