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Russia Defends Warplanes That Flew Close To U.S. Naval Vessel

A U.S. Navy picture shows a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft making a very low pass close to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea on April 12.

The Russian Defense Ministry has defended the actions of the crews of Russian warplanes that flew near a U.S. guided-missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on April 14 that the crews of the Su-24 jets had respected all safety rules.

The U.S. military said that the warplanes had simulated attack passes near the USS Donald Cook, with one official describing them as one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory.

The U.S. official said the Russian SU-24 jets were not armed in the April 12 incident, but flew so close to the U.S. destroyer and at such a low altitude that they created a "wake in the water."

The official also said a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter flew seven circles around the U.S. destroyer and took pictures.

According to the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet website, the USS Donald Cook is now in the Baltic Sea after leaving the port of Gdynia, Poland, on April 11.

The USS Donald Cook encountered similar close passes by a Russian fighter jet in the Black Sea in April 2014.

Based on reporting by Reuters