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April 20, 2016 No.
6396

Editor-In-Chief Of Portuguese-Language Pravda Website: Kerry Is 'Pig-Faced' And 'Arrogant' To Condemn Russian Fighter Jet's Flight Over U.S. Warship In Baltic

On April 16, 2016, the English-language website of the pro-Kremlin media outlet Pravda.ru published an article by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, director and editor-in-chief of the Portuguese-language Pravda.ru website, titled "Kerry: Reckless, Provocative, Dangerous."[1] In the article, Bancroft-Hinchey stated that the U.S. should not have its navy stationed in the Baltic Sea, underlining that the U.S. should look at a map and see that the Baltic Sea is closer to Russia than to the U.S.

On April 11-12, 2016, Russia carried out a simulated attack on a U.S. guided-missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea, in which a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft made a low-altitude pass alongside it.[2] The vessel, the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), had sailed from the Polish port of Gdynia and was conducting exercises with its NATO ally Poland in the Baltic. Bancroft-Hichey wrote that Russia had every right to fly over territory bordering it, and called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "pig-faced" and "arrogant" for his harsh condemnation of the Russian flight over the U.S. vessel.

The U.S. Navy described the Russian move as "unsafe" and "unprofessional," stating that this vessel had witnessed multiple "aggressive flight maneuvers by Russian aircraft that were performed within close proximity of the ship,"[3] some as close as 30 feet (10 meters).[4] The Navy said that the SU-24 had first flown over the vessel on April 11, as the Donald Cook was conducting "deck landing drills with an allied [Polish] military helicopter."[5] One of the passes was considered unsafe by the ship's commanding officer. On April 12, the Navy said, a Russian KA-27 Helix helicopter circled at low altitude around the Donald Cook. The Navy stated that the helicopter passes were also deemed unsafe. The Navy added that "about 40 minutes following the interaction with the Russian helicopter, two Russian SU-24 jets made numerous close-range and low altitude passes, 11 in total," adding that the Russian aircraft did not respond to "repeated safety advisories in both English and Russian."[6] The Navy wrote on its website that the Russian actions could potentially "unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries and could result in a miscalculation or accident that could cause serious injury or death."[7] It is worth noting that Russian fighter jets were unarmed, as reported by the Western media.[8]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the Russian moves "reckless, provocative, and dangerous." In an interview with CNNEspanol, he said: "It's unprofessional and under the rules of engagement that could have been a shot down, so people need to understand that this is serious business and the United States is not going to be intimidated in high seas."[9] Kerry also mentioned that he would raise the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.[10] Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov answered to Kerry's statement, saying that Russia acted "in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace over neutral waters."[11]

In response to Kerry's reaction, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that the ministry "does not understand the reason for such a painful reaction of our American colleagues" and that the principle of freedom of navigation for the U.S. destroyer, which is stationed in close proximity to a Russian naval base in the Baltic, does at all not abrogate the principle of freedom of flight for Russian aircraft.[12]

Other Russian officials defended the Russian move in the Baltic. Federation Council Defense Committee member Franz Klintzevich said that Kerry is promoting tension and shouldn't talk in threats, since this is a language Russia does not accept. The American interpretation of the incident is illogical, he said, and Russia is not interested in a confrontation with the U.S.[13] Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee member Igor Morozov said that had the U.S. shot down the planes, the Russian response would have been harsh, and the U.S. destroyer would not have been able to leave the area.[14] Duma Defense Committee chairman Vladimir Komoyedov said that the aircraft were unarmed and violated no international rules.[15]

On April 14, U.S. European Command spokesman Danny Hernandez said that in an incident that day a Russian Su-27 "flew within 50 feet [15 meters] of [a] U.S. aircraft's wing tip." He added, "[T]he unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries."[16] However, the Russian Defense Ministry has denied that one of its Su-27s conducted a "dangerous" flyby close to a U.S. aircraft, and explained that the Russian military detected an unknown aerial target heading towards the Russian border at high speed and that a Su-27s from the Baltic Fleet aviation forces had been sent to identify the target. He said that the Su-27 "carried out the flyby and identified the object as a U.S. Air Force RU-135U reconnaissance plane," and added that after making visual contact with the Su-27, the RU-135U reversed course.[17]

In the last two years, since the start of the Ukraine crisis, Russian military aircraft and the U.S. Navy have had numerous other close encounters. Two years prior to the Sukhoi Su-24's pass over the USS Donald Cook, on April 12, 2014, an unarmed Russian Su-24 repeatedly flew near the same vessel as it was in international waters in the Black Sea; it had arrived in the Black Sea two days previously and was about to make a port call at Constanta, Romania. As in the 2016 incident, the aircraft did not respond to multiple queries and warnings from the Donald Cook, and the incident ended after approximately 90 minutes. Officials said the Russian aircraft approached within about 1,000 yards (approximately 900 meters) of the ship. At the time, U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said: "This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries." He also noted that two Russian Su-24 aircraft had been on the scene but that only one had carried out the provocative actions.[18]

Additionally, on June 1, 2015, the U.S. Navy released a video showing an unarmed Russian Su-24 flying over the U.S. Navy's USS Ross and the Ukrainian Navy's Hetman Sahaidachny in the Black Sea near Crimea.[19]

In March 2015, Russian military sources explained why Russian aircraft were flying over U.S. vessels, saying that U.S. Navy presence in the Black Sea gives Russian pilots an opportunity to practice penetrating the ships' air defenses. Russian media outlets also reported that month that Russian Su-30 fighter jets and Su-24 attack bombers had practiced penetrating anti-air systems on the USS Vicksburg missile cruiser and the Turkish TCG Turgutreis frigate in the southwestern Black Sea. On March 3, 2015, three Su-30 jets and four Su-24 bombers conducted monitoring flights over the two ships from the Novofedorovka air base. A Russian military source told RIA Novosti: "These ships' crews are doubtlessly conducting exercises in repelling air attacks from our planes, which gives our pilots the opportunity to gain experience in maneuvering and conducting aerial reconnaissance both in the range of anti-air systems and outside their range."[20]

The following video clips show the Russian aircraft flying near the USS Donald Cook:  

 

The following are excerpts from Bancroft-Hinchey's article:


U.S. sailors: "Captain, usually Russians issue three warnings [before striking]; there are already two" (Source: Vitaly Podvitsky, Ria.ru. April 14)

"What is it with U.S. secretaries of state? How does Washington manage to choose the most pig-arrogant, ignorant, abrasive, insolent wannabe statespersons, time after time, persons like Kerry who are way out of their depth, have no idea what diplomacy means, and insult their country by kowtowing to the lobbies whose interests they serve?

"What is it with U.S. secretaries of state? Remember Colin Powell with his series of lies about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Remember his 'wonderful' foreign intelligence, which turned out to be a doctoral thesis copied and pasted from the Net a decade earlier, then 'sexed up' by Tony Blair's office? Remember the 'proof' that Iraq was procuring nuclear weapons, the 'evidence' being a forged document which even got the country supplying yellowcake uranium wrong (Nigeria, instead of Niger)?

"Remember Condoleezza Rice, with her permanent scowl and endemic insolence, remember when she backed the murderous act by Georgia in 2008? Remember her string of negative comments against Russia? This, the National Security Advisor at the time of 9/11 - and look what a useless job she did then - called the re-election of Vladimir Putin in a free and fair democratic election 'unfortunate.' So much for Rice and democracy.

"Then came Hillary Clinton, complete with the invasion of Libya, the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa, living in peace and prosperity, and turned into a failed State by NATO and Hillary's cronies in the FUKUS Axis (France-UK-US). And then she had the audacity to call Russia's policy on Syria 'despicable.' How 'despicable' is it to fight terrorists?


Russian President Vladimir Putin with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Moscow (Source: Sergey Guneev/Sputnik, March 24, 2016)

"And now John Kerry, who claimed that the terrorists operating in Syria did not have chemical weapons when his country was informed back in 2012 by the Iranians that they did. John Kerry, who stood back and watched as events spiraled out of control, as ISIS sprang up under his snout. John Kerry, on whose watch Ukraine staged a coup d'├®tat and ousted the democratically elected President [Viktor] Yanukovich; [Kerry, who] placed Vice President Biden's son [Hunter Biden] in a position of influence in the Ukrainian energy lobby, and on whose watch Fascists massacred civilians in Donbass.[21] John Kerry, on whose watch terrorist organizations such as Jabhat Al-Nusra use NATO territory to plan their operations. And I repeat, on whose watch terrorist organizations such as Jabhat Al-Nusra use NATO territory to plan their operations.


Kerry fears Russian combat jet (Alexander Zudin, Cartoon.ru, April 17, 2016)

"And now John Kerry condemns the Russian military aircraft flight over an American warship in the Baltic (what the Hell is it doing there?), which borders on the Baltic. Perhaps John Kerry would like to look at a map. On the far left, we have America. To the right of that, we have a vast expanse of ocean, called the Atlantic. Then to the right of that we have Western Europe - Ireland, then the UK, France, then moving eastwards, Germany, then Poland. Go up a bit and we have the Baltic Sea and Russia and that is where the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer, was sailing.

"And what business is it of his if Russian aircraft fly over territory bordering on Russia? Did the planes buzz the destroyer in U.S. waters? No, they did not. And if the crew of the USS Donald Cook is 'intimidated' as he says by a flyover, imagine how they would feel if the Sukhoi SU-24s blasted the pile of junk out of the water, which they could have done in two seconds. Sorry, one.


The Su-24 passes alongside the USS Donald Cook (Source: US Navy, April 12, 2016)

"So if for John Kerry 'under the rules of engagement that could have been a shoot-down,' then, logically, under the rules of engagement that could have been a sinking. And a feeding of Baltic Sea fish with American innards.

"So if Mr. John Kerry believes this kind of behavior is unacceptable, there is one very easy solution: Suppose American warships stayed at home defending their shores, in America, and stopped gallivanting around the globe creating problems? Nobody wants them, they are not welcome, and the behavior of U.S. sailors in multiple ports gives the United States of America a bad name. The word 'rapists' springs to mind.

"As does its secretaries of state. As for this one, he is, in his own words, reckless, provocative, and dangerous. And insolent, ignorant, incompetent, pig-faced, and arrogant, and way out of his league. Who is John Kerry to tell Russian aircraft what they must or must not do - especially when [it was] a NATO aircraft that downed a Russian military aircraft conducting an anti-terrorist operation, and a Russian pilot [who] was murdered as he parachuted out [a reference to Turkey's November 24, 2015 downing of a Russian Su-24 combat jet]. What does John Kerry have to say about the rules of engagement in that case? Does John Kerry rejoice in the murder of the Russian pilot? What is it that the arrogant western leaders say? Ah I remember! John Kerry has to go."

 

Endnotes:

[1] Pravdareport.com, April 16, 2016.

[2] These events were reminiscent of the Cold War. In the late 1960s, there were several U.S. Navy-Soviet Navy incidents, including planes of the two nations passing near one another, ships bumping into one another, and ships and aircraft from both sides making threatening moves against the other side's. In March 1968, the U.S. proposed talks on preventing such incidents from becoming more serious; the Soviet Union accepted the invitation in November 1970, and the talks were conducted in two rounds - October 1, 1971, in Moscow, and May 17, 1972, in Washington, D.C. The agreement, signed by Secretary of the Navy John Warner and Soviet Admiral Sergei Gorshkov at the Moscow summit meeting in 1972, prohibited "simulated attacks against aircraft or ships, performing aerobatics over ships, or dropping hazardous objects near them." For the agreement, see State.gov/t/isn/4791.htm.

[3] Navy.mil, April 13, 2016.

[4] Rt.com, April 14, 2016.

[5] Navy.mil, April 13, 2016.

[6] Navy.mil, April 13, 2016.

[7] Navy.mil, April 13, 2016.

[8] Edition.cnn.com, April 14, 2016.

[9] Edition.cnn.com, April 15, 2016.

[10] Sputniknews.com, April 14, 2016.

[11] Tass.ru, April 15, 2016.

[12] Tass.ru, April 15, 2016.

[13] Lenta.ru, April 15, 2016.

[14] Lenta.ru, April 15, 2016.

[15] Lenta.ru, April 15, 2016.

[16] Edition.cnn.com, April 18, 2016.

[17] Sputniknews.com, April 17, 2016.

[18] Navy.mil, April 14, 2014

[19] See YouTube video of this encounter: Youtu.be/eT8QXOUPCxs.

[20] Ria.ru, March 4, 2015.

[21] In 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine's largest private gas firm.