Kerry says Russian flights near US warship provocative

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'Aggressive' Attack Rocks Diplomacy

MIAMI (Reuters) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday condemned as dangerous and provocative a military encounter in the Baltic Sea that the United States has described as a simulated attack on a U.S. destroyer by two Russian warplanes.

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"We condemn this kind of behavior. It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous. And under the rules of engagement that could have been a shoot-down," Kerry said in an interview with CNN Espanol and the Miami Herald.

The repeated flights by the Sukhoi SU-24 bombers on Tuesday, which also flew near the ship, the USS Donald Cook, a day earlier, were so close they created wake in the water, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

See more of the incident in the gallery below:

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Russia jets buzz American Navy destroyer
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Kerry says Russian flights near US warship provocative

Su-24s buzz over the USS Donald Cook

Courtesy: U.S. Navy

An U.S. Navy picture shows what appears to be a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft flying over the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken April 12, 2016 and released April 13, 2016. Two Russian warplanes with no visible weaponry flew near the destroyer in what one U.S. official described as one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory. (REUTERS/US Navy/Handout via Reuters)
An U.S. Navy picture shows what appears to be two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft flying over the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken April 12, 2016 and released April 13, 2016. Two Russian warplanes with no visible weaponry flew near the destroyer in what one U.S. official described as one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory. (REUTERS/US Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Headquarters, United States European Command Media Operations Division Release: 16-09 April 13, 2016 U.S. Navy ship encounters aggressive Russian aircraft in Baltic Sea STUTTGART, GERMANY - A United States Navy Destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft on April 11 and 12. USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship. On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an Allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes at approximately 3 p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the Allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship's commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area. On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship's commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook's commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional. We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death. U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions, while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels. -30-
Headquarters, United States European Command Media Operations Division Release: 16-09 April 13, 2016 U.S. Navy ship encounters aggressive Russian aircraft in Baltic Sea STUTTGART, GERMANY - A United States Navy Destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft on April 11 and 12. USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship. On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an Allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes at approximately 3 p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the Allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship's commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area. On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship's commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook's commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional. We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death. U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions, while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels. -30-
Headquarters, United States European Command Media Operations Division Release: 16-09 April 13, 2016 U.S. Navy ship encounters aggressive Russian aircraft in Baltic Sea STUTTGART, GERMANY - A United States Navy Destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft on April 11 and 12. USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship. On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an Allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes at approximately 3 p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the Allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship's commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area. On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship's commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook's commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional. We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death. U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions, while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels. -30-
Headquarters, United States European Command Media Operations Division Release: 16-09 April 13, 2016 U.S. Navy ship encounters aggressive Russian aircraft in Baltic Sea STUTTGART, GERMANY - A United States Navy Destroyer operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea experienced several close interactions by Russian aircraft on April 11 and 12. USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) encountered multiple, aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship. On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an Allied military helicopter when two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous, close-range and low altitude passes at approximately 3 p.m. local. One of the passes, which occurred while the Allied helicopter was refueling on the deck of Donald Cook, was deemed unsafe by the ship's commanding officer. As a safety precaution, flight operations were suspended until the SU-24s departed the area. On April 12, while Donald Cook was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter conducted circles at low altitude around the ship, seven in total, at approximately 5 p.m. local. The helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe and unprofessional by the ship's commanding officer. About 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total. The Russian aircraft flew in a simulated attack profile and failed to respond to repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian. USS Donald Cook's commanding officer deemed several of these maneuvers as unsafe and unprofessional. We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death. U.S. officials are using existing diplomatic channels to address the interactions, while the incidents are also being reviewed through U.S. Navy channels. -30-
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It was one of the most aggressive interactions between the two former Cold War foes in recent memory, the official said, although the planes carried no visible weaponry.

A Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter also made passes around the vessel, taking pictures. The nearest Russian territory was about 70 nautical miles away in its enclave of Kaliningrad, which sits between Lithuania and Poland.

In Moscow, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying on Thursday that the crews of the Russian bombers that flew near the U.S. destroyer respected all safety rules.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry will raise the incident with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily press briefing that Washington had raised its concerns with Russian officials.

"I can tell you that that communication has occurred, and we'll seek to resolve our differences through well-established military channels," he said.

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