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Kerry: Russian Warplanes In Baltic Sea Made 'Reckless' Provocation

A U.S. Navy picture shows what appears to be a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft making a very low pass close to the U.S. guided missile destroyer U.S.S. Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, April 12, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned Russia's military for flying warplanes close to a U.S. guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea, saying the April 12 incident was a "dangerous" and "reckless" provocation.

Kerry said on April 14 that the U.S. warship, which was in international waters, could have shot down the Russian SU-24 fighter jets under rules of engagement.

He said he was communicating with officials in Moscow in the hope that such a close encounter will not be repeated.

Earlier on April 14, Russia's Defense Ministry defended the actions of the Russian pilots, saying they had respected all safety rules.

U.S. military officials said the Russian warplanes were not armed, but flew so close to the U.S.S. Donald Cook and at such a low altitude that they created a "wake in the water."

Reducing the risk of deadly military confrontations is on the agenda of NATO and Russian diplomats due to meet in Brussels on April 20.

The meeting will be the first of the NATO-Russia Council since June 2014 when NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Moscow over its forcible annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and TASS