Russia Defends Intercepting US Spy Plane Approaching Its Border

Pentagon Complains Russian Jet Was Dangerously Close

Russia has intercepted a US P-8 Poseidon spy plane on the outskirts of Russian airspace, and Pentagon officials are complaining that the Russian Su-27 made “dangerous” moves, and came within 10 feet of the American plane over the Black Sea.

Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the incident, saying they had no choice but to perform a “visual inspection” of the American spy plane because the plane was heading for their border and then turned off its transponders, raising concerns about its identity.

Pentagon officials say the plane was not required under international law to have its transponder turned on, though Russia noted that it was also fully acceptable under international law to fly up and see what the deal was with a plane that was heading into Russia with its transponder off.

The plane appears to have been conducting “routine” surveillance of the Black Sea itself, likely centering on Russian submarine activity, which is the usual use of a P-8. It is unclear why it got so close to Russian airspace, but the plane did turn around and move away when confronted by the Su-27.

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.