US Ships Approach Russian Border; Russian Jets Approach UN Ships
April 14, 2016 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Andrew Tilghman / Military Times & RT News
The US Navy sails 4,000 miles from US coast to "international waters" 80 miles from Russian territory and is met by "visibly unarmed" Russian fighter jets. The Pentagon angrily accuses the Russian government of "aggression."
Pentagon Rails at 'Simulated Attack'
By Unarmed Russian Jets Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 13, 2016) -- Pentagon officials are reacting with their usual fury at the "unprofessional" behavior of the Russian military today, claiming a "simulated attack" by Russian "attack aircraft," which sailors conceded were a pair of Russian Su-24 aircraft that were visibly unarmed.
Pentagon officials say the move violates a 1973 treaty between the US and Soviet Union about overflight of warships. The planes flew within 30 feet of the USS Donald Cook, a missile destroyer parked in international water off the coast of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
The US has been adding to the number of troops and warships built up around Kaliningrad, along with the rest of the Russian border with NATO member nations. Officially, the excuse is "Russian aggression," citing the civil war in Ukraine, which Russia brokered a ceasefire to more than a year ago. The US buildup continues.
The 1973 treaty with the Soviets bars "simulating attacks" and dropping hazardous objects near ships. It is likely arguable that flying unarmed planes near a ship is not necessarily a "simulated attack."
Russian Attack Aircraft Just Flew
Within 30 Feet of a US Navy Ship Andrew Tilghman / Military Times
(April 13, 2016) -- In one of the most aggressive actions in recent memory, Russian warplanes conducted "simulated attacks" on the a US Navy vessel in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, repeatedly flying within 30 feet of the ship, according to a defense official.
Sailors aboard the destroyer Donald Cook said the aircraft flew low enough to create wake in the sea waters surrounding the ship, and the ship's commanding officer said the incident was "unsafe and unprofessional," the defense official said.
"This was more aggressive than anything we've seen in some time," according to the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because US officials have not officially disclosed the incidents.
Sailors aboard the ship described the Sukhoi Russian Su-24 as "wings clean," meaning there were no visible bombs or armaments on the aircraft, the defense official said.
The nature of the overflight as a "simulated attack" may violate a 1973 treaty between the US and Russia that specifically prohibits this type of maneuver, the defense official said. The maneuver was one of several aggressive moves by Russian aircraft on Monday and Tuesday.
Shortly after leaving the Polish port of Gdynia, near Gdansk, on Monday, the Donald Cook at was sea in international waters conducting flight operations with a Polish helicopter, part of routine joint training exercises with the NATO ally.
During those flight operations, a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 combat aircraft appeared and conducted about 20 overflights, coming within 1,000 yards of the ship at an altitude of about 100 feet, the defense official said. In response, the commander of the Donald Cook suspended flight operations.
On Tuesday, the Donald Cook was underway in the Baltic Sea when a Russian helicopter -- a Ka-27 Helix -- made seven overflights and appeared to be taking photographs of the US Navy ship, the defense official said.
Shortly after the helicopter left the area, an Su-24 began making "very low" overflights with a "simulated attack profile," the defense official said. The aircraft made a total of 11 passes.
The ship's commander repeatedly tried to make radio contact with the Russian aircraft but received no response, the defense official said.
After a formal investigation, the incident may prompt the US government to formally lodge a complaint -- or "demarche" -- with Moscow, the defense official said.
While Russian aircraft during the past couple of years have conducted numerous aggressive overflights that Navy officials deemed "unprofessional," the incident on Tuesday was the first to be deemed "unsafe," the defense official said.
In 1973, the United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty aimed at preventing incidents at sea. That treaty specifically prohibits " simulating attacks," according to the US State Department's website.
The aircraft likely came from a Russian military installations in Kalingrad, an enclave of Russian territory on the Baltic Coast nestled between Poland and Lithuania. 'Aggressive Simulated Attack':
Pentagon Decries Russian Jets
Zooming over USS Donald Cook RT News
(April 14, 2016) -- The aerobatics skills of Russian pilots over the US destroyer Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea left the Pentagon and other US official running for cover in Washington over "aggressive close interactions" with Russian fighters jets.
Releasing the footage of Russian jet flybys in the vicinity of the destroyer, the US Navy said that its vessel has encountered multiple "aggressive flight maneuvers . . . within close proximity of the ship," some as close as 30 feet (10 meters) on Monday and Tuesday.
The set of incidents took place as the US ship, which had sailed from the Polish port of Gdynia, was conducting exercises with its NATO ally Poland in the Baltic Sea. The Navy announced that the SU-24 first flew over Donald Cook on Monday as US sailors were rehearsing "deck landing drills with an allied [Polish] military helicopter". The numerous close-range, low altitude encounters were witnessed at 3:00pm local time, forcing the commander of the ship to suspend helicopter refueling on the deck until the Russian jets departed the area.
he next day, the Navy said, Russia caused concern among US sailors when a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter flew seven times over the ship at low altitude in international waters at around 5:00pm. Some 40 minutes later, two Russian SU-24 jets allegedly made a further 11 "close-range and low altitude passes".
"The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook's commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional," the Navy said.
Judging by the videos released by the US Navy, the sailors were nonplussed by the Russian aerobatic skills. They gathered on the top deck of the destroyer to watch the Russian pilots.
"He is on the deck below the bridge lane . . . It looks like he'll be coming in across the flight deck, coming in low, bridge wing level . . . Over the bow, right turn, over the bow . . . " the voiceover on the footage states in what looks more like an instructor's advice on how to maneuver in open waters, rather than the panic that the central command presented it to be. At least on the video no one can be seen running for cover.
According to a US defense official who spoke with Defense News, sailors aboard the Donald Cook claimed that the Russian jets' low altitude stirred waters and created wake underneath the ship. US personnel on the American vessels, also claimed that Su-24 was "wings clean," meaning no armaments were present on the Russian jets that could have posed a threat to US operations in the Baltic.
et at the same time, the official noted, that this week's incidents are "more aggressive than anything we've seen in some time," as the SU-24 appeared to be flying in a "simulated attack profile."
The Russian overflights have caused panic over in Washington, with White House spokesman Josh Earnest calling the actions of the Russian pilots "provocative" and "inconsistent with professional norms of militaries."
"I hear the Russians are up to their old tricks again in the EUCOM [US European Command] AOR [area of responsibility]," Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren said during a briefing on Wednesday, adding that the US is "concerned with this behavior."
"We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death," the US European Command said in a statement.
In the meantime Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, thanked the US crew for keeping their cool during the stressful situation.
"Bravo Zulu to the crew of USS Donald Cook for their initiative and toughness in how they handled themselves during this incident," the admiral said on Facebook.
Russia has yet to comment on the incidents but most likely the Russian air craft flew from the Kaliningrad region, bordering Poland. Kaliningrad is the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet, which also includes the Chernyakhovsk, Donskoye, and Kaliningrad Chkalovsk air bases.
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