US plays down flyover by Russian bombers near warship

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US military released a video of a Russian Su-24 bomber flying past an American warship in the Black Sea to dispel what it called inaccurate media reports about a routine encounter.

In the video, a Su-24 aircraft appears in the distance, then zooms by the USS Ross - a guided-missile destroyer.

Other Russian bombers also flew within sight of the ship, officials said.

Such footage is rarely released publicly but the US Navy decided to post it "because we were unsatisfied with the press reporting, and we wanted to show exactly what happened," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.

None of the Russian aircraft that flew by the ship were armed and neither side took any aggressive action, Warren said.

"This was simply a ship and a plane passing in the day in this case," he said.

Some Russian media had suggested that the aircraft forced the American destroyer to shift course away from Russian territorial waters off the coast of Crimea.

But the Pentagon said those reports were "erroneous" and "didn't reflect the facts."

The USS Ross was in international waters and "never changed course, never deviated from its mission," he said.

And there was no communication between the Russian planes and the US vessel.

The Russian aircraft got to within about 1,600ft (500m) from the ship while flying at an altitude of about 600 feet, officials said.

With tensions rising over Moscow's armed intervention in Ukraine over the past year, Russia has stepped up flights of its bomber fleet, particularly over the airspace of Nato states.

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