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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, December 15, 2017

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Amid war fears, Russia accused of intercepting U.S. aircraft

U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea.

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Amid World War 3 fears, now Russia has been accused of making an “unsafe and unprovoked” intercept of a U.S. aircraft over the Black Sea.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that a Russian fighter made the unsafe intercept, causing the U.S. P-8A to experience “a 15-degree roll and violent turbulence.”

The intercept by the Russian Su-30 occurred after the fighter flew from the right to the left of the plane with its afterburners engaged.

Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, a spokesman for the military organisation, said the U.S. plane did nothing to provoke action that took place over international airspace.

She added, "The U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behaviour. Unsafe actions‎ have the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all aircrews involved.”

The Pentagon stated the P-8A had its transponder - which is used to interact with air traffic control - turned on when the incident occurred.

Transponder transmissions are also used to detect when a plane is at risk of colliding with another.

According to officials, the incident took place across a 24 minute period.

Officials deemed the Russian plane as flying “erratically” and with “poor control.”

Previously, the last close call between Russian and U.S. aircraft took place in June when a Su-27 flew within five feet of an RC-135 over the Baltic Sea - in the incident that was similarly described as being “unsafe.”

Officials then pointed out that the Russian Su-27 jet had air-to-air missiles under its wings and approached the U.S. Air Force RC-135 recon jet "rapidly," coming within 5 feet of the American aircraft.

Another official said, once alongside, the Russian jet was “provocative” in its flight manoeuvres and flying “erratically.”

Following the incident in June, U.S. Navy spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis reiterated that Russia is within its right to fly in international airspaces, but it should make sure it is doing so safely.

He said, "Russia is certainly within its right to exercise within international airspace, but we want them to respect international standards for safety to prevent accidents. The vast majority of interactions we have, intercepts that occur when we fly and that are intercepted by the Russians are safe. This is an exception, not the norm, but we were again operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke.”

In June alone, a U.S. official stated that over 30 interactions took place between Russian and American aircraft - they are typically seen as safe and professional.

Earlier this month, U.S. fighter jets intercepted Russian nuclear bombers approaching the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan off the coast of North Korea.

According to Navy officials, multiple U.S Navy F/A-18 jets were dispatched to escort two Russian TU-95 bombers away from the ship currently stationed near North Korea and operating in the Sea of Japan.

Navy officials added that the Russian bombers, capable of executing a nuclear strike, were intercepted merely 80 miles away from the ship.

Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman is said to have described the incident with the Russian air force as “safe and professional.”

The recent incident came just weeks after the Russian foreign ministry called the U.S. an “occupying force” in Syria.

Meanwhile, Russia is currently teamed up with Japan to conduct joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan.

The collaboration is seen as a retaliation to the threats of World War 3 from North Korea.

Commenting on the joint mission, Russian Captain First Rank Alexei Bolotnikov said, “Nine exercises were carried out, the main drills were recusing a person in the war from a helicopter, rescuing a person in a lifeboat from a boat, a captured boat was also liberated by special forces units. I believe that both the Russian and Japanese sides completed all the tasks set.”

On Tuesday, following Pentagon’s accusations, a decorated Russian general fired back saying American airmen had no business flying in these European waters, to begin with.

Russia, along with three U.S. allies and Ukraine and Georgia have access to the Black Sea.

The retired deputy commander of Russia’s air force, Nikolay Antoshkin was quoted as saying on state news agency RIA Novosti, “Our jet simply indicated, approached, the airman had a look and demonstrated that [the Poseidon] must leave. Americans have nothing to do in the Black Sea. This is an enclosed sea.”

He lamented that in Soviet times when Moscow controlled all but Turkey’s ports in the Black Sea, foreign air forces did not fly freely above the waters.

Since then, ex-Communist states Bulgaria and Romania have joined Turkey in the U.S.-led NATO alliance.

Meanwhile, former Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia have expressed a desire to join, but cannot embark on the process because Russian-backed troops hold parts of their territory.

In 2014, after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, Turkey said the absence of a regional NATO force in the Black Sea allows Moscow to shape the sea like “almost a Russian lake.”

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