The Russian Defense Ministry told the media on Thursday that it scrambled two Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets to intercept the American aircraft after Russia’s air defense network spotted it over international waters of the Baltic Sea.
The jets forced the B-52 Stratofortress to change course and escorted it as it started to move away from Russian borders on the back to its base, the Ministry said.
The Russia Defense Ministry’s Facebook page posted a video of the incident online.
US Air Force in Europe and Africa spokeswoman Renae Pittman told TASS on Thursday that the B-52 was conducting routine “freedom of navigation and overflight" operations in international airspace and never changed it course.
"On March 20th, the B-52 had a routine interaction with a Russian Su-27 while conducting operations over the Baltic Sea. The pilots were using transponders and operating in conformity with international law,” she said.
“The Russian aircraft did not chase the B-52 away, and the bomber was able to complete its mission. Operations and engagements with our allies and partners demonstrate and strengthen our shared commitment to global security and stability," the spokeswoman added.
The incident came shortly after the Pentagon redeployed six B-52 bombers to Europe, a move that CNN said was intended for "theater integration and flying training" in cooperation with members of the NATO military alliance.
Moscow was not pleased with the move, earning that it might breed tensions.
"It goes without saying that such actions by the United States by no means strengthen the climate of security and stability in a region adjoining Russia," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday. "On the contrary, this breeds more tensions."
The Kremlin has repeatedly censured what it perceives as mounting anti-Russia hysteria and Russophobia in Europe, and calls NATO's military buildup at its doorstep a threat to its national security.