Russian fighters escort US bombers over Black Sea

Russian fighter jets escorted two U.S. bombers over the Black Sea on Tuesday, according to a statement from Russia’s defense ministry.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the ministry said that it sent two Su-30 fighter jets to detect air targets that were approaching the border over neutral waters of the Black Sea.

“Russian fighter crews identified the air targets as two B-1B supersonic strategic bombers accompanied by two KC-135 tanker aircraft of the US Air Force and escorted them over the Black Sea,” the defense ministry said. “After the turn of foreign military aircraft from the State Border of the Russian Federation, the Russian fighter jet returned safely to its home airfield.”

The defense ministry also posted videos of the aircraft in flight to Facebook and Twitter.

Asked about the incident, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Colonel Chris Mitchell told The Hill that “our aircraft routinely interact with Russian units in international airspace and most interactions are safe and professional.”

“Unless an interaction is unsafe, we will not discuss specific details,” Mitchell said.

A similar incident occurred on Sunday, Reuters reported at the time, when a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet escorted a B-1B strategic bomber over the Sea of Japan, known in South Korea as the East Sea.

Tuesday’s incident came the same day that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Ukraine.

While in Ukraine, Austin said he wanted to see regional cooperation among allies in the Black Sea to deter Russian aggression.

“In support of these efforts, the United States will continue to provide assistance to enhance the maritime capacities of not only Ukraine, but also Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria,” Austin said. “We have long understood the importance of cooperation and unity among our allies and partners to deter Russian aggression.”

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