US spy planes have twice tried to approach the Russian border over the Black Sea with their transponders off, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that SU-27 fighter jets were scrambled in response.
“On September 7, the US P-8 Poseidon surveillance airplanes tried to approach the Russian border twice… with their transponders off,” Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
The SU-27 fighter jets that intercepted the US aircraft were acting “in strict accordance with international flight rules,” the statement reads.
Two unnamed US defense officials earlier accused Russian jets of carrying out an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of the US spy aircraft, which was on a “regular patrol” over the Black Sea. The officials were speaking of the incident with Reuters.
They said the Russian SU-27 came within about 3 meters of the US plane, and the standoff lasted for about 19 minutes.
"They're up there for 12 hours and there are lots of interactions. But only one of the incidents was what the pilot determined was unsafe," a US official told Reuters.