Former Rear Admiral Chris Parry has claimed the Russians "are out to get us" following the "simulated attack" on a US destroyer by fighter jets in the Baltic Sea.
In an incident described by a US official as 'one of the most aggressive interactions in recent memory', video footage showed two Su-24 strike aircraft 'buzzing' the USS Donald Cook at a height of only 30 feet - low enough to create a 'wake in the water'. The pilots did not respond to attempts to hail them.
The Russian Defence Ministry has said the aircraft respected all safety rules, but Parry branded them "unprofessional and dangerous."
"It was designed to send a message," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "The Russians seek to dominate the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the Arctic. They seek to diminish the United States in the eyes of our allies so they all feel distinctly unsafe. They're signaling they're out to get us."
The Falklands war veteran clarified the "allies" who should be particularly worried by this overflight are the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They were formerly part of the Soviet Union, and Parry insisted: "Russia wants them back."
He added: "If I were Lithuanian, Latvian, or Estonian, I'd be very scared indeed. There are five Russian brigades ready to strike at the capitals of all three countries and they're under threat from Kaliningrad [a military exclave].
"If it weren't for the nuclear and conventional capability of the United States, United Kingdom and France, I suspect the Russians would have moved by now."