BRUSSELS, April 20. /TASS/. USS Donald Cook's approach to the Russian westernmost Baltic region of Kaliningrad, which is sandwiched between the territories of Lithuania and Poland, both of them NATO member-states, manifested an attempt of putting military pressure on Russia, Alexander Grushko, the Russian ambassador to NATO said on Wednesday. The diplomat referred to the incident that occured recently when two Russian combat planes several times flew over the USS Donald Cook destroyer in the Baltic Sea.
"First and foremost, I'd like to stress the full compliance with international law of the actions of Russian fighter jets," he said after a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council. "Still the key issue is what the Donald Cook was doing so close to Kaliningrad."
"Could anyone possible suppose that destroyer fitted out with 2,500 km range cruise missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads, might be cruising in the waters off New York?" Grushko said. "This wasn't military activity proper but rather an attempt to exert pressure on Russia."
"I hope all the serious people realize Russia will take the necessary precautionary steps in response to this attempt to use military force," he said.
Gen Igor Konashenkov, the official spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that the crews of Sukhoi-24 fighter jets were on training missions over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea on April 13.
"Their route crossed the district where the destroyer USS Donald Cook happened to be," he said clarifying that the area was only 70 km away from a major Russian naval base.
"Upon sighting the ship within the visual flight zone, the Russian crews performed a turnout maneuver, in the course of which they observed all the safety precautions," Gen Konashenkov said.
He gave the assurances that the crews of the Russian Aerospace Force were making all flights in strict conformity to international regulations for the use of airspace over neutral waters.