Edited by Nelly T.
A US official describes two Russian warplanes with no visible weaponry flying simulated attack passes on Tuesday as one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory.
The repeated flights by the Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes took place near a US guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea and were so close they created wake in the water, with 11 passes, the official said.
USS Donald Cook was passed seven more times by a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter, taking pictures 70 nautical miles away from Kaliningrad, the nearest Russian territory which sits between Lithuania and Poland.
The official said they attempted to contact the Russian aircraft “on the radio but they did not answer.”
The incident came as NATO plans its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to counter what the alliance, and in particular the Baltic states and Poland, consider to be a more aggressive Russia.
A permanent presence of battalion-sized deployments of allied troops has been request of NATO by the three Baltic states, which joined both NATO and the European Union in 2004.
300 to 800 troops is what a standard NATO battalion consist of.
Moscow denies any intention to attack the Baltic States.
April 11 saw the end of the USS Donald Cook’s visit in the Polish city of Gdynia before continuing out to sea with a Polish helicopter on board, the first incident took place on the same day.
The two SU-24 jets flew about 20 passes near the Donald Cook coming as close as 1000 meters of the ship at about 30 meters in altitude.
The incident was followed by even closer passes the next day by the SU-24s and by the Russian helicopter.
The US defense official said the commanding officer of the Donald Cook believed that Tuesday’s incident was “unsafe and unprofessional,” but cautioned that a formal US military review of the matter was underway.