The United States’ relations with Russia might currently be at a cool distance, but both countries’ aircraft were extremely close in international airspace this week.
On Tuesday, a Russian fighter jet flew within 20 feet of a Navy maritime patrol aircraft over the Black Sea, according to the Navy, as widely reported across various news outlets.
According to one report, a Navy spokesperson called the move between the Russian Su-27 fighter jet and the Navy P-8 Poseidon “safe and professional.”
The fighter came within 20 feet of the P-8, and then “remained that close for five minutes,” according to a U.S. defense official who spoke to Fox News.
According to that official, “While this one was considered by the flight crew to be safe and professional, this sort of close encounter certainly has the possibility to become dangerous in a hurry,” Fox News reported.
This incident was more about Russian President Vladimir Putin being able to distract that country from some of its issues, according to L. Todd Wood, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy who flew special operations helicopters supporting SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and others.
“Putin needs to instigate further international intrigue to keep his population focused away from their internal economic problems,” Wood said. “[That] was all this was about.”
The incident came a day before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Washington, D.C.; it is not the first incident of too-close proximity of the countries’ aircraft, as Russian fighters made flybys of the U.S.S. Porter in February.