Russia on Thursday brushed off the United States’s reaction to its fighter jets flying by a U.S. Navy destroyer this week in what the United States called a provocative and unnecessary move.
"To be honest, we don't understand such a painful reaction from our American colleagues,” Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told the state-owned TASS news agency.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon slammed Russia’s “unsafe and uprofessional” flights near the USS Donald Cook. The flights appeared to simulate an attack, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon also released video and photos showing the jets extremely close to the ship.
Konashenkov contended the flights were part of planned training and in accordance with international law.
“Spotting the ship within the visibility zone, the Russian pilots turned their aircraft away from the vessel fully observing the safety measures," Konashenkov said.
Just like the U.S. ship has freedom of navigation in international water, the Russian jets have freedom of navigation in international skies, he added.
“The principle of freedom of navigation for the U.S. destroyer, which is staying in close proximity to a Russian naval base in the Baltic Sea, does at all not cancel the principle of freedom of flight for Russian aircraft," he said.
U.S. lawmakers have rebuked Russia as well.
Rep. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesDaschle Group hires first GOP lobbyist Overnight Defense: US sanctions NATO ally Turkey over Russian defense system | Veterans groups, top Democrats call for Wilkie's resignation | Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon board Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon advisory panel MORE (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, called for increased U.S. Navy activity in Europe.
“The Russian regime has shown itself to be a thuggish, authoritarian detriment to the liberty of its own people and the peace and stability of its neighbors,” he said in a Facebook post. “From Georgia to Ukraine to these provocative passes over an American warship in international waters, Moscow has shown itself determined to bring back the days of Cold War tension between the U.S. and Russia.
“U.S. naval activity in Europe must be expanded accordingly to address the threat posed by Russia’s international behavior.”
Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain blasts Graham for refuting funeral remark about Kushner, Ivanka Trump Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a frequent critic of Russia, slammed the flights as well.
“Yet another unacceptable provocation by the #Russian military,” McCain tweeted.