A Russian jet came within 30ft of a US destroyer conducting exercises in the Baltic Sea in what the US navy described as a “simulated attack” – one of the closest and riskiest encounters between the two countries’ armed forces in recent years.
The US navy released photos and videos showing Russian SU-24 fighter jets flying low over the sea and “buzzing” the USS Donald Cook – a destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class – which carries guided missiles and which had just made a call at the Polish port of Gdynia.
According to the US European Command (Eucom) in Stuttgart, there were a number of such close encounters on Monday and Tuesday, involving both Russian fighter jets and helicopters, while the Donald Cook was in international waters in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Poland. Those waters are also close to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Lt Col David Westover, a Eucom spokesman, said that in the closest pass, on Monday, a Russian SU-24 came within 30ft (9 metres) of the Donald Cook, at an altitude of 100ft, as the US navy was practising helicopter landings on the ship’s deck, and an allied helicopter was on the deck refuelling. The drills were stopped because of the danger presented by the Russian overflights, he said. Other reports said that helicopter involved in the aborted exercise had been Polish.