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UK accuses Russian fighter jet of ‘unsafe close pass’ of RAF spy plane after Moscow claims airspace violated

Moscow accuses Britain of ‘deliberate provocation’ amid tensions over Ukraine war

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 16 August 2022 21:40 BST
Vladimir Putin 'unlikely to succeed' in occupying Ukraine, Ben Wallace says

The UK’s military has accused a Russian fighter jet of performing an “unsafe close pass” of an RAF plane, which Moscow had claimed violated its airspace in a “deliberate provocation”.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) denied Russian allegations that the RAF RC-135W surveillance aircraft had breached its borders over the Barents Sea.

Moscow said it had scrambled a Russian MIG-31 to intercept the plane, which it claimed had crossed into its airspace near the remote Arctic headland of Svyatoi Nos.

The Russian defence ministry said Britain has sent a notice about planned flight of an RC-135 reconnaissance plane along a route that partly passes over Russian territory.

“We regard this action as a deliberate provocation,” the ministry said, adding the Russian air force had been “given the task to prevent the violation of the Russian border”.

“All possible consequences of this deliberate provocation will lie entirely with the British side,” the ministry said in a statement, without specifying when and where the British flight was planned.

But the UK denied its plane had crossed into Russian airspace during what it said was a routine operation. The MoD accused the Russian jet of flying dangerously close to the RAF aircraft.

A spokesperson said: “A Russian MIG-31 jet conducted an unsafe close pass of an RAF RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft as it carried out a routine operation in international airspace over the Norwegian and Barents Seas on Monday 15 August.

“The UK aircraft was in communication with Russian civilian air traffic control and its crew operated in a safe and professional manner.”

The accusations came amid tensions between Russia and the West over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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