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​A Russian fighter passed dangerously close to an RC-135 intelligence-gathering aircraft over the Baltic Sea, sparking a US diplomatic protest, according to US military officials. "On the morning of April 7, a US RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in an unsafe and unprofessional manner" north of Poland, said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez in a Washington Free Beacon report. "The United States is raising this incident with Russia in the appropriate diplomatic and official channels," she added. A Russian military spokesman claimed Russian radar detected the RC-135 "making steady progress toward [Russia's] national border," alleging the aircrew was not employing the aircraft's transponder. US European Command officials denied that claim in an April 11 post at the command's Twitter page, asserting that the aircraft was operating in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization flight rules. The RC-135U is primarily equipped to detect, analyze, and gather technical data on foreign air defense radar systems. An RC-135U was involved in a similar incident with a Russian fighter north of Japan last year.