MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. USS Donald Cook missile destroyer was about 70 kilometers from the Russian sea base as Sukhoi Su-24 of the Russian Air Force was above it, spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday.
"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," he said. "The route of the Russian aircraft crossed the area where the USS Donald Cook was - about 70 kilometers from the Russian Naval base."
According to the ministry, the flights of Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft over the Baltic sea were performed in accordance with international rules. Having discovered the US destroyer in the Baltic Sea, the warplanes turned away from the vessel observing all safety measures.
"Spotting the ship within the visibility zone, the Russian pilots turned their aircraft away from the vessel fully observing the safety measures," Konashenkov noted.
The ministry added that "all flights of aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces are performed strictly in accordance with the international regulations on the use of airspace over neutral waters."
The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said the ministry "frankly speaking, even does not understand the reason for such a painful reaction of our American colleagues." "The principle of freedom of navigation for the US 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," the official said.
According to previous reports, two Russian combat planes several times flew over the American USS Donald Cook destroyer in the Baltic Sea. The incidents are "entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international waters and international airspace," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.