MOSCOW — Russia's defense ministry on Tuesday accused an American destroyer of coming dangerously close to a Russian frigate in the Mediterranean Sea, calling the incident a "gross violation" of international agreements.
"On June 17, in the east of the Mediterranean Sea, the American destroyer USS Gravely came dangerously close to a Russian warship, 60 to 70 meters from the left side, and crossed the path of frigate Yaroslav Mudry at the dangerous distance of 180 meters from the bow," the ministry said in a statement.
At the time of the incident, the Russian frigate was in international waters and was not "conducting dangerous maneuvers" in respect to the American destroyer, the statement said.
The ministry added that the crew abroad the USS Gravely had committed a "gross violation of international rules on the prevention of collisions at sea" and violated a maritime agreement signed in 1972 by US and then Soviet authorities.
The Pentagon has reported a number of recent cases of Russian jets buzzing US planes and ships in the Baltic Sea in recent months with tensions between the two side at their highest point since the Cold War over the Ukraine crisis.
In April, the US Navy released video footage of Russian aircraft flying very close to the USS Donald Cook, including in a "simulated attack profile."
Russia's defence ministry on Wednesday used the alleged incident in the Mediterranean Sea to hit back at the US.
The Pentagon "has recently accused with great perseverance Russian pilots and marines of lacking professionalism," it said. "But this incident shows that US Marines allow themselves to forget basic rules of maritime safety."
Relations between Russia and the West have nosedived over Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Kiev in March 2014 and its support for a pro-Kremlin insurgency in eastern Ukraine.