Amid escalating tension between the U.S. and Russia, a Russian fighter jet made 12 low-level, close-range passes near the USS Donald Cook, the Pentagon announced. According to Stars and Stripes, the U.S. destroyer was in international waters in the western Black Sea when the incident occurred. The Cook was patrolling the region following Russia's annexation of Crimea last month.

Russian pilots challenge the USS Cook
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that a Russian Su-24 aircraft ignored multiple queries and warnings from the Cook. He noted that there was also a second Russian jet that stayed at a high altitude during the event. Given that there were two planes involved, Warren dismissed the possibility that the pilots were acting aggressively on their own accord.

A U.S. navy official who wished to remain anonymous told Stars and Stripes that the low-flying jet came as close as 1,000 yards of the Cook while at an altitude of just 500 feet. However, Warren stated that the aircraft never flew directly over the American vessel.

Throughout the incident's 90-minute duration, the Cook was never in any significant danger, Warren said. The two Russian jets appeared to be unarmed, and Warren asserted that the U.S. ship "is more than capable of defending itself." Nonetheless, he condemned the pilots' behavior and pointed out that this is not the only recent sign of Russian disobedience.

"We've seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine now for several months," Warren said. "These continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which is what we've called on the Russians to do."

He also stated that the pilots' actions disregarded previous agreements pertaining to the professional interaction between Russian and U.S. militaries.

The U.S. reaction to the Cook incident
According to, White House press secretary Jay Carney noted that President Barack Obama was expected to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Cook incident and warn of stricter economic sanctions if Russia refuses to scale back its estimated 40,000 troops stationed on Ukraine's border.

Meanwhile, Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove is scheduled to confer with NATO officials and provide options for strengthening the defenses of alliance members in Eastern Europe. reported that Breedlove could recommend deploying additional U.S. troops to the area and conducting more military exercises.