US Air Force accused Russian pilots of dangerous approaches and maneuvers and other violations of the Memorandum of understanding the incident prevention and flight safety of aviation in Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The U.S. and Russian militaries have a year-old air safety agreement, but American pilots still find themselves having close calls with Russian aviators either unaware of the rules of the road, or unable or unwilling to follow them consistently.

"Rarely, if ever, do they respond verbally," said Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, who flies combat missions in a stealth fighter. "Rarely, if ever, do they move. We get out of the way. We don’t know what they can see or not see, and we don’t want them running into one of us."

Complicating the aerial traffic jam, the Russian planes don’t emit identifying signals, flouting international protocols.

"If an aircraft crashes, it is statistically more likely that it’s some type of mechanical problem that caused that crash, rather than someone shooting down an airplane," said U.S. Air Force Col. Daniel Manning. "But in the fog and friction of war, people will be predisposed to conclude there’s some type of malign activity that took down that aircraft."

For the moment, day-to-day efforts to avoid a midair catastrophe go through Col. Manning, who has three scheduled calls a week with his Russian counterpart, a colonel based in Syria, to clear airspace for both militaries’ operations.

In addition, a senior Pentagon civilian leads a video teleconference on Syria every six to eight weeks with her Russian counterpart.

Source: The Wall Street Journal