MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- The Russian military has intercepted American spy planes over the Black Sea four times in the past week.
The Russian defense ministry said a Su-27 jet fighter buzzed two U.S. reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday after they had approached the country’s border over the Black Sea.
The American spy planes were identified as an RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft and a Р-8А Poseidon maritime surveillance plane.
"The American reconnaissance planes were not allowed to breach the Russian Federation’s state border,” the ministry said in a statement.
A similar incident took place on Monday over the Black Sea. The Russian air force also escorted a Р-8А Poseidon plane away from the country’s airspace last Thursday and again on Friday.
American bombers and spy planes, as well as NATO aircraft, have frequently been spotted near Russia’s borders.
Moscow has time and again expressed its concern about the increasing presence and activities of the U.S.-led NATO forces near Russia’s western borders.
The provocative flights have increased in frequency since 2014, when Crimea joined Russia following a referendum in which more than 90 percent of participants voted in favor of separating from Ukraine, and when the ongoing military conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out.
U.S. Marine Jailed
On Thursday, a court in Russia sentenced a former U.S. Marine to nine years in prison for assaulting two police officers while drunk last year.
Trevor Reed, a 29-year-old student, has been in jail since last year when he was arrested for the attack, which, according to the judge, had caused the two police officers to suffer "mental and physical harm.”
The court ruled that Reed’s "state of intoxication” had played a decisive role in the incident and sentenced him to nine years in a penal colony.
Reed’s conviction follows the high-profile trial of another former U.S. marine Paul Whelan, who received a 16-year jail sentence last month on espionage charges.
EU Sanctions Russian Intelligence
Meanwhile, the European Union on Thursday imposed sanctions on a department of Russia’s military intelligence service over suspicions of participation in major cyberattacks across the world.
The EU accused the Russian service of being behind two cyberattacks that hit several companies in Europe in June 2017 and resulted in large financial losses. The service was also accused of two cyberattacks against Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 and 2016.
Brussels also targeted firms from North Korea and China over the same claim, with both countries rejecting any involvement in the cyberattacks.
China’s diplomatic mission to the EU said in a statement on Friday that Beijing "is a staunch defender of network security and one of the biggest victims of hacker attacks.”