On Monday, President Obama spoke with Russian President, Vladimir Putin over the phone in what Press Secretary Josh Earnest called a “rather intense discussion.” The conversation centered on the Syrian civil war and Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine.

But Earnest admitted that withheld from the exchange was a rebuke for Russia’s Su-42 fighter jets performing “simulated attacks” above U.S. Navy vessel, the USS Donald Cook, which was operating in the Baltic Sea.

The Press Secretary waved concerns away saying that, although the incident was problematic, it wasn’t “particularly unusual.” His sentiments seem to be in conflict with what many on board the vessel are suggesting.

The Military Times reports on the event:

“Sailors aboard the destroyer Donald Cook said the aircraft flew low enough to create wake in the sea waters surrounding the ship, and the ship’s commanding officer said the incident was “unsafe and unprofessional,” the defense official said.”

“This was more aggressive than anything we’ve seen in some time,” according to the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because U.S. officials have not officially disclosed the incidents.”

Some officials suspected the craft was taking pictures of the vessel.
The fighter jet was reported to have passed over at an altitude of about 100 feet and even one aggressive maneuver such as this would be cause for concern, but the jet made another 10 passes of similar fashion.

Military Times also reports that such “simulated attacks” could very well be in violation of the 1973 treaty made between the United States and the Soviet Union which was enacted to dissuade escalating tensions between the two countries.

Pentagon officials decried the maneuvers, only to be brushed aside by Russian Ministry Defense Spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov who said, “To be honest, we don’t understand such a painful reaction from our American colleagues,” in a discussion with TASS News.

Congressman Randy Forbes, who chairs the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, voiced his opinions on the matter on Facebook:

“The Russian regime has shown itself to be a thuggish, authoritarian detriment to the liberty of its own people and the peace and stability of its neighbors. From Georgia to Ukraine to these provocative passes over an American warship in international waters, Moscow has shown itself determined to bring back the days of Cold War tension between the U.S. and Russia.”

Senator John McCain also blasted Russia’s stunt, tweeting that this was “yet another unacceptable provocation by the #Russian military.”

Perhaps the strongest reaction came from Secretary of State, John Kerry, who said the Navy vessel would have been justified to shoot down the jet.

And not more than two days later, a Russian Su-27 jet harassed a United States aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea. A Navy spokesman detailed the dangerous encounter:

“More specifically, the SU-27 closed within 50 feet of the wing-tip of the RC-135 and conducted a barrel roll starting from the left side of the aircraft, going over the top of the aircraft and ended up to the right of the aircraft.”

Such actions would be easier to downplay if they were just foolish intimidation tactics of a single pilot. However, the repeated incidents seem to show a pattern of Russian military policy.

One thing is certain; a strong rebuke of such methods is desperately needed.