US releases dramatic photos of 'unsafe' Russian jet intercept
- Author: Eleanor Harrison Jun 24, 2017,
Jun 24, 2017, 0:10
A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation F-16 supersonic multi-role fighter attempted to get close to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's plane over neutral Baltic waters near Kaliningrad today, but was chased away by a Russian Su-27 jet, Sputnik International reported today.
Shoigu was reported to be en route to the Russian exclave ofKaliningrad for a meeting to discuss how well Russia's western flank was defended.
Later on June 21, Russian Federation news agencies reported that several North Atlantic Treaty Organisation fighter jets were escorting Shoigu's plane over the Baltic Sea as he was returning from Kaliningrad to Moscow but did not try to get close to it.
A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation F-16 fighter jet approached and was then warned away from a jet carrying Russia's defence minister, Russian media reported Wednesday, the latest in a string of aerial incidents that have marked rising tensions between the West and Russia. The altercation lasted just a few minutes before a Russian SU-27 drove the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation plane away.
The alliance said it had no information about who was on board the planes.
Russian state television aired defence ministry footage of the incident, reporting that it took place over neutral waters.
U.S. media reported that, since the beginning of June, there have been over 35 interactions between Russian and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation planes and ships, though most have been routine and not designated as "unsafe", as EUCOM branded Monday's intercept.
Russia To Beef Up Military Forces On Western Flank, Citing NATO Threat
Russian officials blamed the pilot of the US spy plane. "After that the F-16 withdrew".
"Russia is certainly within its right to exercise within global airspace, but we want them to respect worldwide standards for safety to prevent accidents", said Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis.
The incident occurred a day after the Russian defense ministry said an RC-135 US reconnaissance plane had swerved dangerously in the proximity of a Russian fighter jet over the Baltic.
Despite the recent tensions, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said it has no planes to alter how it conducts its air policing mission over the Baltics.
There have been a series of confrontations between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and Russian Federation in the Baltic Sea in recent weeks. The ministry said at the same time that another RC-135 had been intercepted by a Russian jet in the same area.
The NATO buildup includes the modernization of airfields, ports and other military sites, as well as the deployment of new elements of the USA missile defense, the minister added.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Russian Federation are building up their defenses in the Baltic region, where former Soviet states (and now North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members) Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia border Russian Federation.