Russian Federation to USA pilots: 'Stay away if you can't handle intercepts'

Moscow is talking tough after being reprimanded by the United States over an "unsafe" incident in which a Russian military jet flew within 1.5 meters of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the Black Sea.

"The Russian Ministry of Defense would like to remind Navy Capt. Bill Ellis that the Crimea is an integral part of the Russian Federation", the ministry said Thursday in a statement, referring to the commander of the U.S. Navy's Task Force 67.

Russian Federation has hit back after the US accused one of its warplanes of performing an "unsafe" maneuver Monday by reportedly coming within five feet of a Navy spy plane over the Black Sea.

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The Russian Defense Ministry cited the most recent January 29 incident when a Russian Su-27 intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3 near the Russian border, which the Navy has said was unsafe.

"After the surveillance plane of the U.S. Navy had changed its course to move away from the border, the Su-27 returned to its base", RIA quoted the Russian defense ministry as saying.

"This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the Su-27 closing to within five feet and crossing directly through the EP-3's flight path, causing the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27's jet wash".

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"The Aerospace Force will continue to maintain the reliable protection of Russian airspace, the ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Tass Russian News Agency".

Hours after the incident, the Navy released a statement Monday saying that "the Russian military is within its right to operate within global airspace, but they must behave within worldwide standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents".

In remarks cited by Russian media on February 1 - three days after the close encounter near Crimea, the peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 - the Defense Ministry contended that the USA aircraft was in no danger. The United States, along with most of the global community, does not recognize Crimea as Russian territory, holding firm that the annexation was illegal.

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"The actions of the Russian Su-27 that was blocking the attempts of the EP-3 Aries II reconnaissance plane to approach the border of the Russian Federation near the Crimea for more than 2 hours and 20 minutes are correctly called 'escort, ' " the statement said. "Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions".

  • Ryan Wade