Footage allegedly showing the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber passing near the Juan Carlos I, a multi-purpose aircraft carrier in the Spanish Navy, at low altitude in the Baltic Sea has emerged online.
The video was apparently filmed from the deck of the Spanish ship, which was there as part of NATO's annual BALTOPS drills held from 9 to 21 June.
Ganándonos la amistad de los rusos...o no— Fuerzas Especiales (@Fauerzaesp) 19 июня 2019 г.
Un Sujoi SU-24 Fencer hace una pasada al lado del buque de proyección estratégica (LHD) Juan Carlos I (L-61) de la Armada española en el Báltico durante el ejercicio BALTOPS-19 pic.twitter.com/JNkvFSZh7n
The news was earlier reported by Spanish TV channel Antena 3, which claimed that the Russian aircraft was "detected by radars" of the Juan Carlos I carrier, but since the maneuvers were not considered dangerous, no measures were taken.
While both the Russian Defence Ministry and the North Atlantic Alliance are yet to comment on the report, the Spanish Defence Ministry told a Russian media outlet that the Su-24's flight was not considered "either an incident, or a challenge".
The 47th BALTOPS naval exercise involved some 8,600 troops from 18 nations, as well as maritime, air and ground forces with roughly 50 ships and submarines, and 40 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Russian Baltic Fleet, which was monitoring NATO drills, conducted their own maneuvers together with Russian forces in Kaliningrad.
Over the past few years, NATO has significantly beefed up its presence in the Baltic region to deter what it has consistently described as an "increasing threat" from Russia.
Moscow, in turn, has on a multitude of occasions expressed concerns over the bloc's expansion eastward along Russia's borders in the Baltic countries, Poland, and Romania, emphasising the risks of an accidental escalation and warning that it would monitor NATO's military drills in the region.