Nearly 12 hours after a Russian fighter jet forced down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea, British and German fighter jets jointly intercepted a Russian aircraft near Estonian airspace. This triggered tension among the countries involved in the clash. Citing the UK Ministry of Defense, CNN reported that the incident happened on Tuesday.
The ministry said Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon jets from the 140 Expeditionary Air Wing worked with German typhoon jets to escort a Russian IL78 Midas air-to-air refuelling aircraft after it failed to respond to air traffic control in Estonia.
According to the report, the Moscow plane was flying between St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave that sits between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Sea.
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The incident, which added to Russia-US tensions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, appeared to be the first time since the height of the Cold War that a US aircraft was brought down after an encounter with a Russian warplane. US President Joe Biden was briefed on the incident by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, according to White House national security spokesman John Kirby.
He added that U.S. State Department officials would be speaking directly with their Russian counterparts and “expressing our concerns over this unsafe and unprofessional intercept.”
US called it violation of treaty
State Department spokesman Ned Price called it a “brazen violation of international law.” He said the U.S. summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge a protest and the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, has made similar representations in Moscow.
The U.S. European Command said two Russian Su-27 fighter jets intercepted the drone while it was operating within international airspace. It said one of the Russian fighters struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to bring it down in international waters.
Prior to that, the Su-27s dumped fuel on the MQ-9 and flew in front of it several times in “a reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner,” the U.S. European Command said in a statement from Stuttgart, Germany.
“This incident demonstrates a lack of competence in addition to being unsafe and unprofessional,” it added. US Air Force Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said the MQ-9 aircraft was “conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9.” He added that “in fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash.”
(With inputs from agency)
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