The Pentagon said Wednesday that three US Navy planes experienced “unprofessional intercepts” by Russian aircraft over the weekend while flying over the Mediterranean Sea.
The Pentagon statement appeared to confirm media reports that said US and Russian aircraft flew “dangerously” close to each other in three separate incidents over the Mediterranean. Citing unnamed Pentagon officials, The Wall Street Journal said in one incident, planes passed within 5 feet.
US and Russian warplanes often encounter each other, but the officials told the Journal they haven’t had such a dangerous encounter since 2020. A major source of tensions between the two powers is the US’s presence in the Black Sea, where Russia frequently intercepts US spy planes and bombers.
Amid heightened tensions over Ukraine, the US, NATO, and Russia have all stepped up their naval presence in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The numbers of warships in the waters are at levels rarely seen since the end of the Cold War.
In mid-December, the US sent the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and its strike group to the Mediterranean. Between mid-January and early February, the US deployed four guided-missile destroyers to the waters.