WASHINGTON - The Pentagon downplayed a February 9 incident involving Russian bombers and a US aircraft carrier Tuesday, saying it doesn't see the Russian action as "provocative. "
"I did not consider it to be provocative," Gary Roughead, US chief of naval operations, told reporters at the Pentagon.
On February 9, several Russian bombers approached US carrier Nimitz south of Japan and one of them flew over the carrier, according to the US account of the incident.
Four US fighter jets took off and "escorted" Russian bombers.
But the Russian Air Force denied any action of intrusion, saying its planes carried out tasks strictly in compliance with international regulations.
Roughead said he has yet asked Russia for explanation, but said the incident demonstrated the fact that the Russian military is trying to re-emerge as a global force.
He said the US response in the incident is appropriate and the US planes and ships were not alerted to take combat position at that time.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry also said Russian bomber intruded its airspace in the incident, which Russia denied.