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John Kerry: Navy ship could have opened fire during Russian flyby

Click to play video: 'U.S. Navy Commander defiant towards Russian fly-by' U.S. Navy Commander defiant towards Russian fly-by
U.S. Naval ship Donald Cook pulled into port in Lithuania on Thursday after some close encounters with Russian fighter jets the previous two days. U.S. Commander Charles Hampton said the ship will continue to operate as planned. David Martin reports – Apr 14, 2016

MIAMI – Under U.S. military rules of engagement, the Navy ship that Russian military jets buzzed in the Baltic Sea this week could have opened fire, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook reported that pairs of Russian Su-24 attack planes made numerous close-range passes on Monday and Tuesday. The planes appeared to be unarmed. On at least one occasion, an Su-24 came within an estimated 30 feet (9 metres) of the Cook, which was in international waters about 70 nautical miles from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The Cook did not respond except to unsuccessfully query the Russian pilots by radio.

In remarks to CNN Espanol, Kerry condemned the Russian actions and said that “under the rules of engagement” it “could have been a shoot-down.”

In all cases, a military commander has the authority to defend his or her ship, plane or other unit. The commander is expected to use his or her best judgment to determine whether the ship faces an imminent threat.

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. has raised its concerns through its military defence representative at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

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