- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2016

President Obama spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday but didn’t raise the issue of Moscow’s fighter jets buzzing a U.S. destroyer, the White House said.

“That did not come up in the call between the two presidents,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who said they had a “rather intense” discussion instead about the breakdown of a cease-fire in Syria’s civil war.

Russian fighter jets made several low flights over the Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea last week, and a U.S. embassy official in Moscow complained through diplomatic channels to the Russian government.

Mr. Earnest said Mr. Obama didn’t bring it up in his phone call with Mr. Putin because the military encounter was relatively routine.

“Those kinds of activities are destabilizing and a source of some concern, but they’re not particularly unusual,” he said. “And there is an already well-established channel for expressing our concerns about those kinds of incidents from the U.S. military attache in Moscow to his Russian military counterpart. Those concerns were raised at that level and were not escalated beyond that.”

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the U.S. warship would have been justified in firing on the Russian aircraft, due to the dangerous actions of the Russian pilots.

Two Russian planes made several low passes over the USS Donald Cook, video of which alarmed viewers in the U.S. and prompted fresh concerns about Russian aggression.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the U.S. warship would have been justified in firing on the Russian aircraft, due to the dangerous actions of the Russian pilots.

A Russian jet also flew dangerously close to a U.S. reconnaissance plane operating in the Baltic Sea, two days after fighters buzzed the Cook. The Russian SU-27 fighter flew in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner when it approached the RC-135 reconnaissance plane, the Pentagon said.

“There have been repeated incidents over the last year where Russian military aircraft have come close enough to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns, and we are very concerned with any such behavior,” the Pentagon statement said. “The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries.”

The Russian Defense Ministry denied its pilots were operating unsafely around the USS Cook and said they “fully observed all safety measures.”

Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin spoke as a new round of peace talks stalled between the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition groups.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide