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Russian jets intercept U.S. Navy planes, Pentagon says

The U.S. Navy said the Russian jets intercepted three P-8A Poseiden aircraft, similar to the one pictured, flying over the Mediterranean Sea. File Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns/Navy
The U.S. Navy said the Russian jets intercepted three P-8A Poseiden aircraft, similar to the one pictured, flying over the Mediterranean Sea. File Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns/Navy

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Russian military jets intercepted three U.S. Navy aircraft over the weekend in an "unprofessional" manner, the U.S. military announced Wednesday.

U.S. Navy Capt. Mike Kafka, director of Defense Press Operations, said the intercepts happened while the U.S. aircraft were in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.

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"We can confirm that over the course of last weekend, three U.S. Navy P-8A aircraft experienced unprofessional intercepts by Russian aircraft," he said in a statement to UPI.

"We have made our concerns known to Russian officials through diplomatic channels. While no one was hurt, interactions such as these could result in miscalculations and mistakes that lead to more dangerous outcomes. The U.S. will continue to operate safely, professionally and consistent with international law in international waters and airspace. We expect Russia to do the same."

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The close call came amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over the Moscow's buildup of troops along the Russian border with Ukraine.

The United States and its NATO allies have warned Russia against invading Ukraine, threatening to levy sanctions and other punishments against Moscow. Russia has said it condemns any attempts by Ukraine to join NATO and wants the military alliance to withdraw its deployment to its pre-1997 positions.

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the United States hasn't seen a "meaningful pullback" of troops from Ukraine's border. The Russian Defense Ministry said it was pulling back some troops after completing military training exercises.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said he's seen that Russia is still building up troop numbers along the border.

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