The United States military has condemned a provocative low flyby of the USS Donald Cook by a Russian fighter jet as the American warship traversed the Black Sea on Sunday.
"The Sukhoi Su-24 fighter-bomber screeched past the U.S. destroyer while it was operating in international waters, the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet said in a statement," according to Stars and Stripes.
The @USNavy routinely operates in the Black Sea to reassure @NATO Allies & partners and ensure security & stability in the region.— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) January 31, 2021
Today, 🇺🇸 #USSDonaldCook operating in international waters in the #BlackSea while a #Russian SU-24 does a low pass nearby.#PowerForPeace pic.twitter.com/6JGNZoncZb
The Navy subsequently released video of the Russian jet buzzing the US warship as it conducted what a statement called legitimate operations to "ensure security and stability" in the Black Sea region.
We reported earlier that the US has beefed up its presence there within the week after recently sworn in President Biden entering the White House. Last Thursday a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Porter, was the third American naval vessel to have entered the Black Sea within the week prior, with the other two - the USS Donald Cook and USNS Laramie - having been there since the prior Sunday.
Russia is said to be closely tracking the US vessels' movements, also as they are apparently conducting military exercises while deployed, as Stripes details:
4A Navy P-8A aircraft also was taking part in drills with the vessels in recent days. But more Navy ships and planes in the Black Sea can also mean additional attention from Russian forces, who routinely track their movements.
In response late last week Russia publicized that the defense ministry last Thursday deployed a mobile coastal defense anti-ship system in Crimea.
A mobile coastal defense anti-ship system Bastion has carried out a march to a deployment site in Crimea within the framework of an exercise being held against the backdrop of the US destroyer Donald Cook’s visit to the Black Sea, the Black Sea Fleet’s information support office said on Thursday.
Crucially the Russian military press release noted that the mobile systems are armed with anti-ship missiles, and are currently prepping for joint drills with Russia Black Sea frigates. "Combat crews arrived in the designated area, readied the systems for combat and carried out preparations for virtual fire," the TASS report continued.
The weekend Russian plane "buzzing" incident is nothing new, as it's happened in recent years, and appears a favored but highly dangerous tactic of Russia's air force in harassing US warships as a 'warning' message in the Black Sea, which is also very close to the geopolitical flashpoint of Ukraine and Crimea.