When the Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook sailed into the Baltic Sea in April 2016, it had been more than two years since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.

Tensions between Russia and its NATO and European neighbors were still high, and the intervening period had seen a number of uncomfortable and even unsafe encounters between their forces, for which NATO often criticized Russia.

Adm. James Foggo, then a vice admiral in charge of the Navy's Sixth Fleet, had those in mind as the Cook sailed into the Baltic.

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(Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service via Associated Press)
The Russian Defense Ministry released a video shot from the cockpit of a Su-27 fighter as it raced after a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy, long-range bomber.
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A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber from the US Air Force Andersen Air Force Base in Guam performs a fly-over at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore February 14, 2012. (Reuters/Tim Chong)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Thursday complained that flights by U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers across the Baltic Sea near Russia's borders were creating tensions in the region, but Washington said they were needed to deter potential adversaries.

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Photo via U.S. EUCOM

The U.S. European Command has just released a series of photos that captured a recent mid-air tango between a U.S. RC135U surveillance plane and an armed Russian SU-27 Flanker that occurred over the Baltic Sea this week.

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Screenshot

The U.S. military is suddenly getting back into the hot air-intercept business again with a vengeance — and as we all wring our hands over the geopolitical implications, it’s as good a time as any to remember that even in times of relative calm, fighter jockeys are always running danger-close interdictions, flirting with mechanical disaster and global crisis. Case in point: this berserker video of a NATO F-16 buzzing the Russian defense minister’s jet and being politely told to piss off by an SU-27 Flanker.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Edward Guttierrez

The Cold War-era Su-24 “Fencer” strike jet was designed to penetrate enemy air defenses at low levels. And a pair of Russian Su-24s appeared to be testing their ability to do just that when they flew a series of simulated attacks runs on the USS Donald Cook soon after it departed from the Polish port of Gdynia.

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