Striking photos released Friday show just how dangerously close a Russian fighter jet came to a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in a Monday interaction deemed "provocative" by a U.S. official.

The images show the Russian SU-27 coming within five feet of the wing of the U.S. RC-135U — so close the Russian pilot can be seen in the cockpit in some images.

This is a  dramatic photo of a Russian jet coming within a few feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance jet over the Baltic Sea June 19, 2017, in a maneuver that has been criticized as unsafe. The photographs released Friday june 23, 2017  show the Russian SU-27 coming so close to the wing of the U.S. RC-135U the Russian pilot can be seen sitting in the cockpit in some images. ( Master Sgt Charles Larkin Snr/U.S. European Command via AP) Expand / Collapse

A Russian jet came within a few feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance jet over the Baltic Sea on June 19, 2017. (AP)

Fox News was the first to report the dangerous intercept by the armed Russian jet when it came within a few feet of the U.S. Air Force recon plane.

After it flew alongside, the Russian jet was “provocative” in its flight maneuvers and flying “erratically,” an official told Fox News.

U.S. European Command released the stunning photos of the Baltic Sea encounter.

This is a  dramatic photo of a Russian jet coming within a few feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance jet over the Baltic Sea,  June 19, 2017, in a maneuver that has been criticized as unsafe. The photographs released Friday june 23, 2017  show the Russian SU-27 coming so close to the wing of the U.S. RC-135U the Russian pilot can be seen sitting in the cockpit in some images. ( Master Sgt Charles Larkin Snr/U.S. European Command via AP) Expand / Collapse

The Russian jet coming within a few feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance jet on Monday, June 19, 2017 has been criticized as unsafe. (AP)

ARMED RUSSIAN JET COMES WITHIN 5 FEET OF US RECON JET

Since June 2 there have been more than 35 interactions in the Baltic Sea region between U.S. and Russian jets and warships. Intercepts are common and usually considered routine, but EUCOM said the June 19 incident was different “due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft during the intercept."

"This interaction was determined to be unsafe,” EUCOM said.

Two days later, Sweden summoned Russia's ambassador after another SU-27 jet flew close to a Swedish Gulfstream reconnaissance plane over the Baltic.

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The incident also followed the Russian Defense Ministry’s announcement this week that it would treat any U.S. jet flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as a potential target following a U.S. Navy jet's shoot-down of a Syrian jet that was targeting U.S.-aligned fighters.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

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