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VIDEO: Russian fighter jet buzzes US warship in international waters in the Black Sea

Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24MR. (Dmitriy Pichugin, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
January 31, 2021

On Sunday, a Russian Su-24 buzzed the USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, as the U.S. Navy ship transited the Black Sea. The Russian fighter jet flew a low pass within a couple hundred yards of the ship and the incident was caught on camera.

The U.S. 6th Fleet shared video of the incident and tweeted, “The @USNavy routinely operates in the Black Sea to reassure @NATO Allies & partners and ensure security & stability in the region. Today, #USSDonaldCook operating in international waters in the #BlackSea while a #Russian SU-24 does a low pass nearby. #PowerForPeace.”

The incident comes days after the USS Porter (DDG 78) entered the Black Sea, bringing the overall U.S. presence in the sea to three ships. The USS Porter joined the USS Donald Cook and the USNS Laramie (T-AO 203). The three U.S. ships represent the largest presence the Navy has had in the Black Sea in three years.

In a Saturday press release, the Navy said the three ships are in the Black Sea to conduct a range of operations with the support of Navy P-8A aircraft from Patrol Squadron VP-46 and NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). 

“The three ships will continue to maintain maritime security alongside other NATO Allies and partners. The ships’ combined operations further strengthen interoperability and demonstrate resolve to Black Sea peace and security.,” the Navy statement read.

On Saturday, the USS Donald Cook conducted an underway replenishment (UNREP) with the USNS Laramie, a Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler.

The Black Sea is a key strategic body of water connecting Russia to the Mediterranean Sea. NATO allies Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia border the Black Sea. The Ukraine and Georgia also border the Black Sea.

The Black Sea has taken on added strategic importance after Russian annexed the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Russia has reportedly responded to the recent increased U.S. presence in the Black Sea by activating its mobile coastal-defense anti-ship system in Crimea.

Navy ships have seen closed passes of Russian Su-24 fighter jets in the past. A pair of Russian Su-24s stalked the USS Donald Cook during operations in the Baltic Sea in April of last year. A Belgian F-16, intercepted and chased the Su-24s before additional Russian Su-27 and Su-30SM joined in, flying alongside the Belgian fighter jet.