Europe

Russia defends Su-27's interception of US spy plane over Baltic Sea

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet in 2010.

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet in 2010.  (AP)

The Russian Defense Ministry Saturday defended a Su-27’s barrel roll over a U.S. spy plane in the Baltic Sea, saying the American jet had turned off its transponder and it wasn’t identifiable.

A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News Friday that the Russian fighter jet flew within 100 feet of the U.S. RC-135 surveillance plane.

“All flights of Russian planes are conducted in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “The U.S. Air Force has two solutions: either not to fly near our borders or to turn their transponder on for identification.”

It’s the second time in less than a month a Russian fighter jet has conducted a barrel roll over a U.S. spy plane. In the first barrel roll, on April 14, the jet flew within just 50 feet of the spy plane, Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

Russian aircraft have conducted a series of daring maneuvers calling out U.S. forces in recent weeks. Video on April 11 captured two Russian jets zooming past the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer in the Baltic, flying only 100 feet off the ground. A U.S. defense official called it a "simulated attack profile."

Secretary of State John Kerry responded, "We condemn this kind of behavior. It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous." He said forces on the destroyer could have shot down the jets under U.S. military rules of engagement.

But a Russian defense spokesman said the jet pilots carefully turned around. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov claimed he didn't understand the "distressed reaction of our American counterparts."  

The Pentagon called the first barrel roll "unsafe and unprofessional."

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

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