Two Russian aircraft made an “unsafe, unprofessional” intercept of a US Air Force B-52 bomber on Friday over the Black Sea and in international waters, according to a statement from US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs.
The Russia pilots crossed within 100 feet of the nose of the B-52 multiple times and also caused turbulence to the B-52 restricting its ability to maneuver, according to the statement.
“Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, in the statement.
“While the Russian aircraft were operating in international airspace, they jeopardized the safety of flight of the aircraft involved. We expect them to operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents,” he said.
US B-52’s flew over 30 NATO countries on Friday “to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the U.S. and NATO allies,” according to a statement from US European Command.
The demonstration of American military capability came amid ongoing tensions with Russia and lingering questions about the Trump administration’s commitment to the alliance following a recent decision to reduce US troop levels in Europe.
The US commitment to NATO has been called into question following President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of member countries for not meeting the recommended alliance target of 2% of GDP on defense.
Trump directed the Pentagon to substantially cut the number of US troops in Germany, returning many of them back to the US, a move that Trump said was due to Berlin’s failure to spend 2% of its GDP on defense.