A Russian Su-27 fighter jet was ordered to intercept two United States (US) Air Force B-1B bombers flying over the Baltic Sea.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder
, confirmed on Tuesday, May 24, 2023, that two US B-1B bombers were taking part in a planned exercise.
Ryder described the interaction between the two country’s air forces as “safe and professional”.
“So, we do have two B-1 bombers that are part of a bomber task force […] that we fly regularly around the world in various countries. This is a long-planned exercise in Europe and my understanding is that it was a safe and professional interaction with Russian aircraft. So, nothing significant to report on that front,” Ryder said during a press conference.
At the time US aircraft were flying in international airspace.
The Russian air force also commented on the incident and said the Su-27 fighter jet was dispatched to prevent the US planes from “violating” its border.
“The crew of the Russian fighter classified the air targets as two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers and occupied the established air watch zone,” Russian officials said. “After the removal of foreign military aircraft from the state border of the Russian Federation, the Russian fighter returned to the home airfield.”
The Russia’s Defense Ministry added that, “the flight of the Russian fighter was carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace”.
It is not uncommon for NATO and Russian aircraft to intercept each other’s aircraft in international airspace.
However, an incident in March 2023 when a US MQ-9 Reaper drone was struck by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet has increased tensions during such interactions.