A Russian aircraft this week flew within feet of the USS Porter, ducking down aggressively and then spinning off with speed as America’s destroyer fired warning shots into the air – the latest in a long line of growing aggressions at the order of President Vladimir Putin.
As the Mirror reported, it’s not clear why Russia engaged in this recent show of force. But in recent times, Putin has been sending his military into more territories of the Black Sea, ostensibly trying to reassert Russia’s authority in the region.
A Russian battle fleet is currently stationed in Sevastopol; meanwhile, Russia is spending aggressively to bolster its military forces.
And this isn’t the first time Russian jets have buzzed the decks of the U.S. warship.
In mid-February, the U.S. military released several photographs of Russian SU-24 jets flying low off the bow of the USS Porter, just around the same time the commander of the U.S. military touched down in Azerbaijan to meet with his Russian counterpart.
And just days before that, Russian jets conducted several fly-bys of the USS Porter, passing close enough to elicit alarm of those on deck. Russian authorities denied those maneuvers, but photographs taken at the scene seemed to suggest otherwise.
“The ship captain labeled these events as unsafe and unprofessional because of the potential for an accident,” said Lt. Col. David Faggard, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s European Command, said at the time.
He also specified that Russian jets had flown by on at least four times on a single day on February 10, all at lower-than-normal speeds and altitudes.
First, he said Russian pilots flew an IL-38 propeller-engine maritime patrolling plane past the USS Porter, followed shortly after by three SU-24 fighter jets.
Over the past three years, Russia has slowly increased its military presence and aggression in the region.
One NATO official told CNN, for instance, that “allied aircraft scrambled around 400 times to meet Russian aircraft over Europe in both 2014 and 2015. In 2016, allied aircraft scrambled around 800 times in response to Russian aircraft.”
Russia’s latest incursion in the Black Sea, buzzing the USS Porter, comes just after President Donald Trump vowed in a Newport News, Virginia, speech before the military to build up America’s ships and planes “to project American power in distant lands,” he said.
As part of that plan, Trump proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending.
He also said he’d like to bolster the U.S. Navy so that it has 12 aircraft carriers. Currently, the Navy has 10.
At his Thursday address, Trump said: “I just spoke with Navy and industry leaders and have discussed my plans to undertake a major expansion of our entire Navy fleet, including the 12 carrier Navy we need. We also need more aircraft, modernized capabilities and greater force levels.”
Trump vowed the U.S. Navy will “soon be the largest it’s been.”