A US reconnaissance plane was intercepted over the Baltic Sea as tensions between Moscow and NATO reached a new high. The incident occured hours after military officials spoke of "deep concerns" after Vladimir Putin flexed his muscles in one of the most aggressive military actions on the US in recent history.
Dramatic footage captured the moment Russian fighter jets conducting simulated attacks on a US Navy ship in the Baltic Sea on Wednesday. Where two Russian SU-24 jets can be seen repeatedly swooping just 30ft from the boat as sailors' jaws dropped in horror.
Now it has emerged that a day later a Russian Su-27 fighter "performed erratic and aggressive manoeuvres", flying within 50 feet of a US RC-135 aircraft. US European forces spokesman Danny Hernandez said: "The unsafe and unprofessional actions of a single pilot have the potential to unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries."
The Russian leader is outraged at NATO's missile defence shield being installed in Poland that threatens to render Russia's nuke force useless. Meanwhile, a top US Navy official today warned the Kremlin is deploying its ballistic nuclear missiles and attack submarines in numbers, range and aggression not seen since the Cold War.
"NATO is viewed as an existential threat to Russia, and in the post-Cold War period, the expansion of NATO eastward closer to Russia and our military capability they view as a very visceral threat to Russia," Admiral Mark Ferguson told CNN.
But he said: "The submarines that we're seeing are much more stealthy. "We're seeing the Russians have more advanced weapons systems, missile systems that can attack land at long ranges, and we also see their operating proficiency is getting better as they range farther from home waters."
Moscow is adding or upgrading some 12 naval bases across the Arctic Circle – threatening the UK. In March Vladimir Putin has dropped the bombshell that his military campaign in Syria has prepared his war machine for all-out conflict.