News Briefs – April 15, 2016

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Russia rejects criticism of fly-by near US Navy destroyer

Russia’s defense ministry has rejected complaints by U.S. officials who said Russian attack planes buzzed dangerously close to a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Baltic Sea this week.
The U.S. European command says the Russian planes buzzed a U.S. ship multiple times April 11 and 12 in what the U.S. officials described as an unsafe and unprofessional manner.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, said Thursday that the pilots of Russian Su-24 jets saw the ship and turned back “while using all measures of precaution.” Konashenkov said he was baffled by what he described as the “distressed reaction of our American counterparts.”
The U.S. European Command statement April 13 said officials are using diplomatic channels to address the matter.
“It may have been in international waters and therefore may not be any violation of international law, but it is still irresponsible behavior,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
“It illustrates that Russia is contributing to tensions,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a security conference in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. AP
 

Greece conducts military drills along northern borders

Greece’s military is carrying out unscheduled exercises along the country’s northern borders, with fighter jets flying over an informal tent city of 11,000 migrants next to the border with Macedonia.
Greek military officials say the drills, which foresee activation of rapid-response ground units and aircraft, as well as air defense units in parts of the eastern Aegean Sea, were ordered early April 14.
Over the past few days, Greece has reported a rise in violations of its airspace in the eastern Aegean Sea by Turkey’s air force, and Greek fighter pilots have engaged in a series of simulated dogfights with Turkish fighter jets.
Relations are also testy with Macedonia, which closed its borders to thousands of refugees and other migrants trying to move on from Greece to Europe’s prosperous heartland. AP