Russia’s Defense Ministry is surprised by the attempts of the U.S. command to make Russia’s Aerospace Force responsible for the U.S. aircraft’s approaching Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 fighter, spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday.
“On October 17, while in the air space east of Deir ez-Zor, crew of the U.S. E-3 AWACS in violation of flight safety ascended by almost one kilometer from the altitude and made a dangerous approach at less than 500 meters to a Russian Su-35 fighter.”
In line with the Russian-US agreements, the command of Russia’s Aerospace Force’s contingent at the Hmeimim air base had notified the US counterparts in advance of that Su-35 flight in that area, giving the precise altitude (echelon), Konashenkov said.
“After a dangerous approach of the E-3 AWACS warplane with the Russian fighter jet, the command of the Russian Aerospace Force’s group at the Hmeimim air base urgently contacted the US counterparts and demanded explanations about the incident,” he said. “In principle, we can understand the US pilots’ susceptibility up to a sort of stupor caused by the view of Russian jets nearby. Nonetheless, we would recommend they should not blame Russia of all sins as they are used to but rather should control themselves. By the way, along with their jets.”
“In general, the incident has proved that Russian and US pilots had managed to establish quite sufficient cooperation, which is enough for avoiding such incidents in the future,” the general said, noting “representatives of the U.S. command apologized for the incident and promised to have respective work with pilots not to allow situations of the kind in future.”
Earlier, US Air Force Lt Gen Jeffrey Harrigian, who commands US air operations across the Middle East, told the CNN that a Russian fighter jet and a US military plane flew dangerously close over Syria, saying it was “a near miss.” The two planes were flying with their light switched off and came at a distance of about half a mile (800 meters) from each other.