By Safvan Allahverdi / Elena Teslova
WASHINGTON (AA) - A Russian fighter jet on Monday flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy surveillance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea.
"A U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27," the Pentagon said in a written statement.
"This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet [1.52 meters] and crossing directly through the EP-3’s flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27’s jet wash."
The statement said the intercept lasted two hours and 40 minutes, adding the Russian military has the right to operate within international airspace, but it must be within international standards for ensuring safety and preventing incidents.
Russia’s Defense Ministry in a statement Monday confirmed the interception, saying the Russian fighter jet took to the air for an aerial target intercept.
"The Su-27’s air crew reported the identification of the U.S. plane and accompanied it by not letting it violate Russian airspace," the statement said, adding the fighter jet returned to its base after the U.S. plane changed course away from the Russian border.
However, U.S. officials claimed the Navy plane was operating "in accordance with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity".