Armed Russia Jet Buzzes US Warplane amid Rising Tensions


A USAF RC-135 aircraft is shown during NATO operations in 1999. GREG L. DAVIS Associated Press

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation F-16 fighter approached and was then warned away from a jet carrying Russia's defense minister over the Baltic Sea Wednesday, according to the Washington Post, citing reports in Russian media.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation planes tried to escort the Russian Defense Minister's plane over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea when he was traveling to Kaliningrad.

Then, 10 minutes later, a second US RC-135 entered the zone and was also intercepted by the Russian Su-27 jet, the ministry said.

Screenshot of F-16 approaching Russian Defense Minister's plane.

Since June 2nd there have been over 35 interactions in the Baltic Sea region between USA and Russian jets and warships, but the Monday incident is notable because the US military considered it "unsafe", according to one official.

A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation F-16 fighter jet has tried to approach the Russian defense minister's plane above the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea.

A U.S. F-15 took down the drone because it was "showing hostile intent" to coalition forces on the ground, according to a USA defense official.

However, Russia disputes the claims, saying the U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft made a "provocative" move towards their Su-27 fighter jet as it intercepted two U.S. planes "flying towards the Russian state border". He says the close encounter was unprovoked by the US aircraft.

The Russian fighter "came within several feet" of the RC-135, according to Capt. Joseph Alonso, a spokesman for U.S. European Command.

The U.S. Defense Department described the incident as unsafe on Russia's part "due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft during the intercept".

"The American fighter broke all norms and arrangements and actually behaved like an air pirate", the "expert", Aleksandr Zhilin, told the Russian military TV station.

Shoigu's plane was en route to the western Russian city of Kaliningrad for a meeting of Russia's Board of the Ministry of Defense.

Earlier this month, Russian Federation intercepted a nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bomber Moscow claims was nearing its border.

In response, Russian Federation then suspended a pact used to prevent crashes with the US -led coalition in the skies over Syria and was threatening to target American jets.

Moscow too has complained about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation planes flying close to its airspace.

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