Ex-NATO commander warns we're 'very close' to naval collision or 'inadvertent shootdown' of Russian aircraft

A retired NATO commander dubbed Friday's near-collision of a Russian and American ship "shocking" and argued that it demonstrates the potential for a far more serious incident in the future.

Video of the dramatic moment was just released by the U.S. Navy along with a statement accusing the Russian ship, the Udaloy I DD 572, of conducting an "unsafe maneuver," forcing the USS Chancellorsville to "execute all engines back full and to maneuver to avoid collision."

The two ships came within 50 feet of each other on Friday in the Philippine Sea.

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), the former Allied Supreme Commander of NATO, told Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio that it was a "miracle" the two ships didn't collide.

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"When big, massive ships - these are two 10,000-ton ships - when they get that close together the Venturi effect, physics, will cause them to suck in together," Stavridis said.

"As someone who has commanded these ships ... it's clearly the fault of the Russians," he continued.

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Stavridis added that the incident may have had political motives, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping recently spent considerable time with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Xi described Putin as his "best friend" at a recent meeting in Moscow.

"I think Russia is feeling their oats with their new big brother China behind them," Stavridis said.

"Look for more difficult behavior from Russia as the provocateur as we see China and Russia come more into alignment," he continued.

A still image of the incident released by the Department of Defense shows both ships clearly side by side (Department of Defense)

A still image of the incident released by the Department of Defense shows both ships clearly side by side (Department of Defense)

Regardless of the intent or explanation, the situation illustrates that we are "very close" to a collision between Russian and U.S. ships, or an "inadvertent shootdown" of a Russian aircraft approaching a U.S. Navy ship, Stavridis argued.

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It’s the second time in three days the U.S. Navy has accused Russian forces of dangerous maneuvers after a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a Navy reconnaissance aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean.

"The Russians need to understand we are ready to pull the trigger if we have to," he concluded.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this story.