United States Air Force B-52 strategic bombers from the 2nd Bomb Wing carried out a 12-hour training flight over the Black Sea region. After a Russian Su-27 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept one of them near Crimea, Russian officials expressed their concern over the additional tension such flights may create.

The Bomber Task Force, composed of four B-52 Stratofortresses and about 350 airmen from the 2nd Bomb Wing of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, deployed in RAF Fairford on October 10, 2019. The B-52Hs carried out training flights with aircraft from Romania, Ukraine, and Georgia, reports the U.S. Command for Europe (EUROCOM) in a press release on October 23, 2019. 

The training was aimed at enhancing interoperability between the United States and its allies in the region. “This deployment enhances global stability and security while enabling units to become familiar with the U.S. Air Forces Europe – U.S. Air Forces Africa area of responsibility,” says EUROCOM. 

But the flight was heavily criticized by Russian authorities. As a B-52H was approaching the coast of Crimea, it was met by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet that took off from the peninsula, where the Russian South Military District forces are based. 

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov regretted that the appearance of the U.S. bombers near Russian borders created additional tension, reports RIA Novosti. State Duma deputy from the Crimean region Mikhail Sheremet called on U.S. authorities to explain the flight of the strategic bombers near the borders of Crimea.

Flights of USAF aircraft have been increasing since the annexion of Crimea by Russia in 2014. On July 5, 2019, a Boeing P-8A Poseidon observation plane of the US Navy was intercepted by a Su-27 fighter jet in the same region after it was detected moving towards the border. Footage of the interception from inside the cockpit had emerged on Twitter.

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A Russian Su-27 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept a U.S. P-8A Poseidon observation plane over the Black Sea near Crimea.