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Russian, U.S. Aircraft Fly Dangerously Close Over Baltic

An RC-135 surveillance aircraft (file photo)
An RC-135 surveillance aircraft (file photo)

A Russian fighter jet and a U.S. reconnaissance plane flew dangerously close to one another over the Baltic Sea this week.

The encounter, which occurred 40 kilometers from Kaliningrad Oblast, was deemed "unsafe" due to the Russian pilot's "high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft," the U.S. military said on June 20.

The Russian jet intercepted the RC-135 spy plane on June 19 as it flew in international airspace, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.

The U.S. plane did nothing to provoke the Russian behavior, she added.

The spokeswoman did not confirm U.S. media reports that the two aircraft came within 1.5 meters of each other.

Russia's Defense Ministry disputed the U.S. account, saying the U.S. plane made a "provocative" move toward the Russian Su-27 fighter jet.

Meanwhile, Russian media reported that an aircraft carrying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was buzzed by a NATO jet over the Baltic Sea.

A Russian Su-27 plane chased away the F-16 fighter jet, according to TASS news agency.

It reported that Shoigu was en route to Kaliningrad, over international waters.

There have been a series of incidents involving NATO and Russian aircraft in recent months, as relations between Moscow and the alliance sank to lows unseen since the Cold War amid rancor over Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and other issues.

The latest incidents come amid renewed tensions between the United States and Russia sparked by the downing of a Syrian jet by the United States after it targeted U.S.-allied rebels.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and BBC
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