The U.S. Southern Command announced Sunday that a Venezuelan fighter aircraft on Friday made an “unsafe approach” to a U.S. Navy aircraft in international airspace, “endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing” its mission.
The Navy aircraft, an EP-3 Aries II, was conducting a “detection and monitoring” mission over the Caribbean Sea when the incident took place. Southern Command said it reviewed video that showed Venezuela’s “Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time.” Venezuela’s military has since accused the Navy plane of violating “security of air operations and international treaties.”
The U.S. government does not believe Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was fairly elected and instead supports opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Southern Command said Maduro’s regime “continues to undermine internationally-recognized laws,” with Maduro ignoring the suffering of his people and using Venezuela’s “precious resources to engage in unprovoked and unjustified acts.” Venezuela has claimed that so far this year, more than 76 U.S. aircraft have tried to enter the country’s airspace, CNN reports. Catherine Garcia