Russia Intercepts US Spy Plane Off Syrian Coast

US officials say Russian interception was 'irresponsible'

While US and NATO warplanes intercept Russian planes in international airspace on a very regular basis, Russia’s own interceptions are fairly rare, and the US is always furious when it happens. That was the case on Tuesday, when a US Navy spy plane started hanging around the Syrian coast.

Russia is very protective of the Syrian coast, and for good reason, as it hosts Russia’s lone Mediterranean naval base. Having US military aircraft hanging around that area, even if it is just a spy plane, was always going to provoke a response.

Russia sent up a fighter jet to intercept the plane. This apparently didn’t take this first couple of times, because the fighter had to intercept the same spy plane three different times in the same area before it finally went away.

Which led to the inevitable outrage from the US military, who say that intercepting the spy plane was unsafe and “irresponsible” of the Russians. Russia said their fighter stayed a safe distance from the spy plane, and returned when the plane changed course. They added that the whole reason for the interception in the first place was that the plane was approaching the Russian naval base.

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.