While conducting standard training operations over international waters in the Black Sea Friday, a U.S. B-52 was intercepted by two Russians jets in what the Air Force called an "unsafe and unprofessional" manner.
Two Russian Su-27 Flankers repeatedly crossed within just 100 feet of the B-52's nose, increasing turbulence and limiting the American pilot's ability to maneuver.
"Actions like these increase the potential for midair collisions, are unnecessary, and inconsistent with good airmanship and international flight rules," Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, said in the statement.
Harrigian said that the behavior of the Russian pilots "jeopardized the safety of flight of the aircraft involved."
The American pilots were participating in a one-day mission called "Allied Sky," where they flew over all 30 NATO countries Friday in an effort to "demonstrate NATO solidarity." Russia is not a member of the organization.
Harrigian reaffirmed the expectation of the United States that Russian pilots "operate within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents."