Russia to U.S. Navy Captain: Crimea is ours, update your map

Matt Saintsing
February 01, 2018 - 2:44 pm
intercept

U.S. Navy

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In a bold and rare move, Russia’s defense ministry responded to the U.S. Navy on Thursday following accusations made by the United States of an “unsafe” intercept over the Black Sea, on Monday.

And they’re calling out a U.S. Navy commander by name.

“The Russian Ministry of Defence would like to remind Navy Capt. Bill Ellis that the Crimea is an integral part of the Russian Federation,” the ministry wrote in a Facebook post Thursday, referring to the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Task Force 67.

“When commanders sent foreign pilots \ for reconnaissance missions to this part of the Black Sea, they should take into account that they will meet with the Russian fighter jets, not Ukrainian partners.”

Moscow invaded and subsequently annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that sparked tensions with the West, and continues today. The U.S., along with majority of the international community, protests the Russian occupation of Crimea, and does not recognize the area as part of the Russian federation.

On Monday, U.S. Naval Forces Europe accused a Russian Su-27 of flying within five feet of a U.S. EP-3 Aries surveillance plane during what they are referring to as an “unsafe” intercept that lasted two hours and 40 minutes.

The following day, the Navy released video showing the Russian jet flying in front of the U.S. surveillance plane.

They followed that up with releasing five more videos Wednesday, showing the plane loitering near the Navy aircraft.

“These videos show the Russian Su-27 intercepting the EP-3 from a very close position, at the same altitude, and with an estimated wingtip-to-wingtip horizontal separation as little as five feet at times,” Ellis said in a statement released alongside the videos, Wednesday.

“For the Russian fighter aircraft to fly this close to the U.S. Navy aircraft, especially for extended periods of time, is unsafe.”

In the Facebook post Thursday, Russia suggested that the U.S. surveillance plane had switched off transponders, and that the Su-27 was blocking the unwelcome American aircraft as it approached the Russian border near Crimea.

“The maneuvers of the Russian fighter jet on January 29 were standard, absolutely legal and absolutely safe for the US EP-3 Aries II reconnaissance plane.”