|RUSSIAN Su-27 (Photo (US DOD)|
Earlier today (January 29, 2018 ) a Russian jet intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance air craft over the Black Sea in a threatening and unsafe manner reminiscent of the Cold war coming within 5 feet of the US aircraft and directly across its flight path. This is just the most recent of such unsafe interaction between the forces of Russia and the United States in the Black Sea Region of late. Close approach for identification purposes is not illegal in international air space under international law but "close" means close enough for visual identification, not close enough to risk collision or for the approached aircraft to react to the approaching air craft's slip stream. The Russian jet's action "mission killed" the USN aircraft's mission as it was required to return early.
The event was obviously an intended "mission kill" on the part of the Russians because while the dangerous approach lasted only critical seconds the Russian fighter jet had been shadowing and harassing the US air craft for 2 hours and 40 minutes total. Prior, on November 25, 2016 a similar Russian fighter /interceptor buzzed a US P8-A over the Black Sea. The Russian Ministry of Defense described the incident as a "Greeting Maneuver" and the US DOD described the incident as "safe and professional" yet obviously the "greeting maneuver" was unusual enough to be news worthy. On September 27 2016 a Russian Su-27 flew within 10 feet of a Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft in a maneuver not described as "professional and safe". The Russians have also been "buzzing" US ships visiting the Black Sea.
The Bear shares the Black Sea, an inland body of water that connects to the Mediterranean Sea via a narrow strait with other nations such as Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Bulgaria,
Map Courtesy CIA WORLD FACT BOOK, BLACK SEA REGION AT TOP
A couple of year ago the Russians garnered world naval attention when they net worked a number of small patrol boats in the area and fired successfully missals at targets in Syria. Clearly the Russians would like to treat the Black Sea as a Russian Lake. How inconvenient for the Bear to have neighbors and a connection to the sea.