(CNN) — Two Russian planes conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional” interception of a US Air Force B-52 bomber on Friday over the Black Sea and in international waters, according to a statement from the US Air Force Public Affairs office. In Europe and the Air Forces of Africa.
Russian pilots crossed within 30 meters of the B-52 several times and also caused turbulence to the B-52 that restricted its ability to maneuver, according to the statement.
“Actions like these increase the potential for airborne collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of the US Air Forces Europe. and the African Air Force, in the statement.
“While the Russian planes were operating in international airspace, they endangered the flight safety of the plane involved. We expect them to operate within established international standards to ensure safety and prevent accidents, “he said.
The US B-52s flew over 30 NATO countries on Friday “to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance preparedness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from U.S and NATO allies, “according to a statement from the United States European Command.
The demonstration of American military capability came amid ongoing tensions with Russia and persistent questions about the commitment of the administration of Trump with the alliance following the recent decision to reduce US troop levels in Europe.
The United States’ commitment to NATO has been questioned after repeated criticism from the president Donald Trump to member countries for not meeting the alliance’s recommended target of 2% of GDP on defense.
Trump ordered the Pentagon to substantially reduce the number of U.S. military personnel in Germany, returning many of them to the United States, a move that, according to Trump, was due to Berlin not investing 2% of its GDP in defense.