By BNS/George East/VILNIUS
Lithuanian politicians have described a Russian fighter jets’ simulated attack over a U.S. guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea as acts of ”hooliganism” and “provocation”.
According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, the Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft reportedly flew just 30-feet above the USS Donald Cook. It was confirmed that neither aircraft were armed.
In addition to the 11 passes made by the two fighter jets, it was confirmed by an anonymous official from the U.S. Navy that a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter also made seven passed around the USS Donald Cook to take photographs.
The events took place on Wednesday April 13, 2016, and were described by White House official Josh Earnest as being “entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international water and international airspace.”
According the Arturas Paulauskas, the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament’s National Security and Defence Committee, “the Russians are trying to demonstrate they are the hosts here and that this is their zone of influence.
He urged caution from the Lithuanian government, and said that Lithuania should wait for the United States’ reaction before reacting to the incident.
“The ship came on a friendly mission and I think such demonstration of power won’t bring any greater respect and understanding for Russia,” said Rasa Jukneviciene, the former Lithuanian Defence Minister and member of the Security and Defence Committee. “It is Russia that is the most harmed by such actions on the part of the Kremlin.”
On the morning of April 14, 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Lithuanian confirmed that the ship had arrived in the western Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda for a scheduled port visit.
The Russian fly-over came as NATO plans its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to counter what the alliance, and in particular the three Baltic states and Poland, consider to be a more aggressive Russia.