Russia

Russian Fighter Wards Off NATO Jet Nearing Minister's Plane

Footage showed a Russian Su-27 manoeuvring to drive off an F-18 fighter that flew close to a plane carrying Russia's defence minister.

A Russian fighter jet warded off a NATO military aircraft that approached a passenger plane carrying Russia's defence minister, according to media reports.

State-owned news channel Rossiya 24 broadcast a video of the in-flight encounter over the Baltic Sea shortly after defence minister Sergei Shoigu returned to Moscow from a visit to Russia's westernmost Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

The footage showed a Russian Su-27 manoeuvring to drive off a Spanish F-18 jet based in Lithuania that flew close to the minister's plane.

The SU-27 sees off the NATO F-18 after it flies too close to the Rssian minister's plane (Picture: Rossiya 24).

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said 'the Tu-214 had a valid flight plan, but the two escorting Su-27 flew without one': "Their transponders were switched off and they did not communicate to air traffic control.

 "Two jets from NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission were scrambled to visually identify the aircraft, as is routine. They monitored the planes at a safe distance but one of the Russian fighters conducted an unsafe manoeuvre, cutting into the flight path of one of the NATO jets.

"NATO has no official information as to who was on board of the Tu-214."

A similar incident occurred in 2017, when a Polish F-16 fighter approached Mr Shoigu's plane over the Baltic Sea and a Russian jet pushed it away.

There have been frequent encounters between Russian and NATO aircraft in recent years, as both sides have increased military patrols amid growing tensions.

Some of the encounters trigger mutual accusations of pilots performing unsafe manoeuvres.