(Adds additional details)
WASHINGTON, April 14 A Russian fighter aircraft
made repeated low-altitude, close-range passes near a U.S. ship
in the Black Sea over the weekend, the Pentagon said on Monday,
condemning the action at a time of heightened U.S.-Russian
tensions over Ukraine.
"This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is
inconsistent with their national protocols and previous
agreements on the professional interaction between our
militaries," said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.
Warren said a Russian Su-24 aircraft, or Fencer, made 12
passes at low altitude near the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer
that has been in the Black Sea since April 10. It appeared to be
unarmed, he told reporters.
The incident lasted 90 minutes and took place on Saturday
evening while the U.S. ship was conducting a patrol in
international waters in the western Black Sea, Warren said. The
ship is now in a Romanian port.
The Russian plane, accompanied by another Fencer that did
not fly close to the U.S. ship, did not respond to multiple
attempts by the Donald Cook to communicate with its pilot, he
Pentagon officials have not yet discussed the incident with
the Russian government, Warren said.
Tensions have grown between Moscow and Washington in recent
weeks over the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian
separatists on Monday ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied
government buildings and another group of rebels attacked a
Warren said the U.S. ship was not in danger during
"I would have difficulty believing that two Russian pilots
on their own would choose to take such an action," Warren said.
"We've seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally
and in violation of international norms in Ukraine now for
several months," he said. "These continued acts of provocations
and unprofessionalism do nothing to de-escalate the situation in
(Reporting By Missy Ryan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)