Russian Jet Makes “Provocative And Unprofessional” Pass At USS Donald Cook

Photo courtesy of Navy Forces Online Public Sites

Photo courtesy of Navy Forces Online Public Sites

CBS News – In the midst of increasing East-West tensions over the crisis in Ukraine, a Russian jet made a pass of a U.S. Navy destroyer patrolling the western Black Sea.

A Pentagon spokesperson told CBS Radio that a Russian SU-24 fighter jet made several low altitude, close passes in the vicinity of the USS Donald Cook in international waters of the western Black Sea on April 12.

While the jet did not overfly the deck, Col. Steve Warren called the action “provocative and unprofessional.”

The jet was one of two Russian aircraft in the vicinity — the other flew at a higher altitude.

The close-flying jet came within a few thousand feet of the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer which was conducting a “routine mission” at the time.

The U.S. ship tried to contact the plane’s cockpit, but received no response.

The Russian plane, which the U.S. says was unarmed, made at least 12 passes. This continued for about 90 minutes. The event ended without incident.

A member of the United States European Command (EUCOM) told CBS News the USS Donald Cook is now in Port Constana in Romania, and that there is nothing to monitor now.

Captain Greg Hicks of EUCOM told CBS News: “All of our units take appropriate steps and she’s more than capable of defending herself. This does not take away from the fact that this was unprofessional and provocative behavior.”

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced it would be sending a second warship into the Black Sea to conduct exercises with “our Black Sea partners,” CBS News correspondent David Martin reported.

The White House on Monday confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital over the weekend.

White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed Russian media reports of the trip to Kiev. Carney says Brennan’s visit was part of a trip to Europe.

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is accusing the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force. But the CIA denies that Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations.

Carney said Monday the U.S. is conferring with allies on sanctions after more provocations by Russia in Ukraine. Carney says Obama plans to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin are by phone soon, as early as Monday.

A high-ranking official of the European Union said after the Carney spoke that foreign ministers have decided to sanction more Russians with asset freezes and visa bans as a sign of opposition to Moscow’s policy toward Ukraine.

EU policy chief Catherine Ashton declined Monday to make public the number or names of any of the Russian officials or citizens affected. The decision taken by the 28 EU foreign ministers needs to be enshrined in legal documents which will be drafted quickly.

Ashton told reporters the decision was taken at a meeting of the ministers where the crisis in Ukraine, and how the EU should react, had dominated the agenda.

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