A NATO F-16 fighter jet has tried to approach the Russian defense minister’s plane above the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea. The plane was warded off by a Russian Su-27 escorting the minister’s aircraft.
Russian plane was en route to the city of Kaliningrad, a western Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, where Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu is scheduled to discuss security issues with defense officials on Wednesday.
The incident was first reported by journalists of Russian state news agencies on board Shoigu’s plane.
While one NATO aircraft tried to approach the Russian airplane, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet got in its way and tilted its wings, apparently showing its arms. The F-16 then flew away.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he has no information about the incident.
“It’s probably better to ask the Defense Ministry,” Peskov said in answer to journalists’ questions.
The alliance was not aware that the Russian Defense Minister was onboard, a NATO representative told TASS, stating that the F-16 made a “standard” check as Shoigu’s plane did not identify itself.
“We consider the actions of Russian pilots during the encounter as safe and professional,” the representative said.
On Shoigu’s way back from Kaliningrad, his escort was bolstered by several Su-34 jets, according to reporters. A number of NATO planes followed the Russian Defense Minister’s plane at a distance without making attempts to get any closer.
On Monday a US RC-135 spy plane flying toward the Russian border made a “provocative turn” toward a Baltic Fleet Su-27, which had been scrambled for an interception mission.
The encounters of Russian and US warplanes over the Baltic Sea waters have apparently become more frequent lately. A Russian fighter jet intercepted a small group of US warplanes, including Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker military refueling aircraft, two B-1 bombers and one B-52, during the BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) annual training exercise on June 10.
Earlier in June, the Russian military intercepted another B-52 bomber in the same area, and escorted by an Su-27 fighter away from Russian territory.
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