“Two Russian Su-35 aircraft uncertainly captured a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft assigned to the US Sixth Fleet over the Mediterranean on May 26, 2020,” the US Navy said in a statement.
“The interception was determined to be unsafe and unprofessional due to the Russian pilots approaching the station on each wing of the P-8A simultaneously, limiting the P-8A’s ability to safely operate and last for a total of 64 minutes,” the statement added.
Images of the incident appeared to show the Russian jets armed and flying very close to the wings of the US surveillance aircraft.
“The unnecessary measures taken by the Russian Su-35 pilots were incompatible with good aviation and international aviation regulations and jeopardized the safety of flight for both aircraft,”
This latest eavesdropping comes amid tensions with Russia in a variety of geopolitical issues, although there has been a relative decline in such maneuvers in recent years. US officials believe that Russia is sensitive to US surveillance aircraft operating in the eastern Mediterranean due to Russian military operations in Syria.
Earlier on Tuesday, the US military accused Russia of flying military jet flights from Russia to Libya via Syria, where US officials said Russian markings were removed from the aircraft in an attempt to clandestinally distribute the war plan to Libya in support of Russian mercenaries operating there.
The United States has long accused Moscow of using Russian mercenaries to strengthen its preferred side in Libya’s civil war, the forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, in order to secure access to Libya’s huge energy capabilities while creating a position on NATO’s southern flank.
In March, US F-22 stealth jets and Canadian CF-18 fighters captured two Russian reconnaissance aircraft while flying off the Alaskan coast, according to North America Aerospace Defense Command, amid tensions between US and Russian militants that US officials have expressed concern increased Russian military activity in the Arctic.
This story has been updated with background information.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.