Russian jet does a barrel roll over US recon plane in the Baltic

I think some of these Russian pilots must have watched Top Gun. An SU-27 performed a barrel roll over a US reconnaissance plane while it was on a routine patrol in international waters. 

The incident comes on the heels of another episiode involving the US destroyer Daniel Cook that was buzzed by Russian warplanes on Wednesday.


The incident Thursday occurred when a Russian jet "performed erratic and aggressive maneuvers" as it flew within 50 feet of the U.S. aircraft's wing tip, Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said in a response to a question from CNN.

The Russian Su-27 began the barrel roll from the left side of the U.S. RC-135 and went over the top of it to end on the right side of the aircraft, European Command said.

The RC-135 aircraft was "intercepted by a Russian SU-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner," Hernandez said, adding that the U.S. plane never entered Russian territory.

"The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries," said Hernandez, who added the United States is protesting with the Russian government.

But Russia's Defense Ministry said that reports on Thursday's incident were "not consistent with reality" and that the Russian aircraft's maneuvers had been "performed strictly in accordance with the international regulations on the use of airspace."

Ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the Su-27 had been dispatched after Russian air defense facilities spotted an unknown target over the Baltic Sea, approaching the Russian border at high speed.

It identified the jet as an American reconnaissance aircraft, and after visual contact, the U.S. plane "changed its course to the opposite direction, away from the Russian border," he said.

No incidents were recorded over the encounter, he said.

Was this just a lone pilot going all Tom Cruise on the recon plane? Or is it part of a calculated series of provocations by Putin to embarrass and humiliate the US? 

For Putin and a vast majority of the Russian people, the loss of the Soviet Empire and the ascendancy of America as the only superpower was a bitter pill. It fed feelings of Russian inferiority that have always been present just below the surface.

Tweaking the tail of the lion like this are not the actions of a confident superpower. There may be ulterior motives if these provocations are being planned in Moscow, but the goal here seems to be an attempt to humiliate the US rather than provoke a war. The problem is, one of these provocations may backfire and Putin could find himself in a shooting war anyway. 


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