UPDATE 13:42 p.m. IST -- Russia said Thursday "all safety precautions were observed" when its fighter jets came in proximity to a U.S. Navy ship in the Baltic Sea earlier this week. The U.S. Navy had called the Russian warplanes fly-by "unsafe and unprofessional."
"On April 13, crews of Sukhoi Su-24 planes of the Russian air force made planned training flights above the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea. The route of the Russian aircraft crossed the area where the USS Donald Cook was - about 70 kilometers from the Russian Naval base," Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, according to TASS news agency.
"Spotting the ship within the visibility zone, the Russian pilots turned their aircraft away from the vessel fully observing the safety measures," he said.
Two Russian SU-24 fighter jets came within metres of a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea earlier this week while conducting simulated attack passes, which some United States officials described as the riskiest encounters between the militaries of the two countries in recent years. The U.S. Navy released photos and videos of the incident Wednesday.
The "aggressive" Russian warplanes made at least 11 low-altitude passes near the USS Donald Cook, which also reportedly created a wake in the waters, according to a news release on the U.S. defense department website. A Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter also made seven circles around the ship Tuesday.
"On April 11, Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter when two Russian Su-24 jets made numerous close-range and low-altitude passes at about 3 p.m. local time. One of the passes, which occurred while the allied helicopter was refueling on the destroyer's deck, was deemed unsafe by the ship's commanding officer," the U.S. European Command said. The two Russian warplanes came within 1,000 meters of the ship and about 30 meters in altitude.
The USS Donald Cook, a guided-missile destroyer, had been forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, and was conducting a routine patrol in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe, the U.S Navy said.
"We have deep concerns about the unsafe and unprofessional Russian flight maneuvers. These actions have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death," the U.S. Command said.
Such close encounters between the U.S. and Russian militaries during the Cold War era had led to a bilateral agreement 1972, signed between then-Secretary of the Navy John Warner and Soviet Admiral Sergei Gorshkov, that sought to prevent dangerous interactions at sea, according to Reuters.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest reportedly called the incident "entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international water and international airspace."
Watch the close encounter between the Russian fighter jets and the U.S. Navy ship in the U.S. Navy video of an April 12, 2016, incident in the Baltic Sea involving the USS Donald Cook and Russian aircraft.