A RUSSIAN fighter jet made multiple close-range passes near an American warship in the Black Sea, according to a US military official, as tensions over the ongoing situation in Ukraine continue to mount.
In the first public account of the weekend incident, the official said the Russian Fencer flew within 1,000 yards (900 metres) of the USS Donald Cook, a navy destroyer, at about 500ft (150 metres) above sea level.
Ship commanders considered the actions provocative and inconsistent with international agreements, prompting the ship to issue several radio queries and warnings.
The fighter appeared to be unarmed and was never in danger of coming in contact with the ship, said the official. The passes ended without incident.
The official also said that a Russian navy ship, a frigate, has been shadowing the Donald Cook, remaining within visual distance but not close enough to be unsafe.
The warship has been conducting routine operations in international waters east of Romania. The ship, which carries helicopters, was deployed to the Black Sea on April 10, in the wake of the Russian military takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and ongoing unrest there.
‘Peacekeepers needed’ says Turchynov
Today, Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country. Pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities across the east of the country. The occupiers are demanding more autonomy from the central government and closer ties with Russia.
The West has accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest, with European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg on Monday to consider additional sanctions against Russian officials following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.