Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A Russian jet intercepted a U.S. spy plane over international airspace over the Black Sea on Monday, though Moscow disputed the Pentagon's characterization of the engagement as "unsafe."
A Russian Su-27 came within 5 feet and crossed directly in front of a U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft, a reconnaissance plane, a statement from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said. The intercept lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes and caused the EP-3 to fly through the Su-27's jet wash, U.S. officials said.
The statement said the U.S. plane didn't provoke the intercept and was operating in accordance to international law.
"The Russian military is within its right to operate within international airspace, but they must behave within international standards set to ensure safety and prevent incidents," the statement said. "Unsafe actions increase the risk of miscalculation and midair collisions."
The Russian Defense Ministry said the interaction was not unsafe and that the jet took precautions to avoid danger.
"The crew of the fighter jet reported the identification of an American reconnaissance aircraft and accompanied the spy plane, preventing it from violating the Russian airspace while observing all necessary security measures," the ministry said in a statement run by Russian state-run news outlet RT.
"The Russian Su-27 fighter jet conducted the entire flight in strict accordance with international rules of the use of airspace. No extraordinary situations occurred during the intercept."
Monday's incident was one of multiple close calls between Russian and U.S. aircraft in recent months. In December, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors intercepted two Russian Su-25s as they flew into a designated de-confliction zone over Syria. And in November, the Pentagon said a Russian Su-30 fighter jet used its afterburners as it flew in front of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane over the Black Sea, causing the U.S. plane to experience a 15-degree roll.