The U.S. military said Sunday that a Venezuelan fighter aircraft had recently made an “unsafe approach” to a U.S. Navy aircraft thus “endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing” the aircraft’s mission.
According to a statement by the U.S. Southern Command, the incident took place on Friday and involved a “Russian-made” SU-30 Flanker Venezuelan fighter aircraft and a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II aircraft that was on a “detection and monitoring” mission.
In a tweet by the Southern Command on Sunday, the Venezuelan fighter jet was flying in international space over the Caribbean Sea, CNN informs.
“After reviewing video documentation, we have determined the Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time, endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing the EP-3 mission,” said the statement.
The Venezuelan military responded to the accusations Sunday, saying that the U.S. aircraft was violating “security of air operations and international treaties.” It reported that Venezuelan strategic high command “proceeded to intercept the aircraft through two airplanes of the Bolivarian Air Force with the intention of applying the international protocols established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). As the U.S. aircraft did not comply with such protocols, it was forced to vacate (the Venezuelan airspace).”
Southern Command added in its statement that the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro “continues to undermine internationally-recognized laws and demonstrate its contempt for international agreements authorizing the U.S. and other nations to safely conduct flights in international airspace.”
It further argued that Maduro uses his country’s resources to “engage in unprovoked and unjustified acts” while his nation starves and the country’s infrastructure crumbles.
The South American country, on its part, said that over 76 American aircraft have attempted to enter Venezuelan airspace this year alone. Last month, in just three hours, a U.S. aircraft was intercepted by a Russian one three times while flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.