Kerry: US Would’ve Been Justified Shooting Down Unarmed Russian Jets

Russia 'Baffled' by US Reaction

US officials are still on about yesterday’s incident, in which a pair of unarmed Russian jets flew within 30 feet of a US destroyer in the Baltic Sea, something US officials described as a “simulated attack” that proved Russia’s “unprofessional” nature.

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry declared the flights “provocative” and insisted the USS Donald Cook would’ve been well within its rights to shoot down the planes under the “rules of engagement” they are placed under.

Which is a stunning claim, since the USS Donald Cook is deployed in the peaceful Baltic, off the coast of the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and the US and Russia are not at war. That they have rules of engagement allowing them to unilaterally attack Russian aircraft at all seems unwise.

Russian Major General Igor Konashenkov says he is “baffled” by the US reaction, saying the Russian jets were operating well within their safety guidelines, and that the US freedom of navigation near a Russian naval base “does not at all cancel the principle of freedom of flight for Russian aircraft.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.