The official said that the Russian planes created a “wake in the water” because they flew so close. A Russian KA-27 helicopter also made seven passes on the destroyer and was believed to be photographing the ship.
The U.S. official says that the Cook was clearly in international waters at the time of the incident, explaining that they were operating about 70 miles from Kaliningrad, a Russian province.
Russia warplanes have increasingly tested international boundaries in recent years by buzzing near or in the airspace of other nations. In October, Russian warplanes flew near the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the Sea of Japan and the Navy was forced to send U.S. fighter jets in response.
"We have seen a pattern on the part of the Russians of undertaking these kinds of actions that we think that they intend to be provocative," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday.
Courtney Kube is a correspondent covering national security and the military for the NBC News Investigative Unit.