MilitaryTimes, By Ashley Bunch, June 22, 2017
A NATO 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.
The incident occurred over the Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe, according to reporters traveling with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in international airspace crowded with Russian and NATO jets, the Washington Post reported.
The NATO jet was reported to have been flying parallel to Sergei Shoigu’s plane when a Russian Su-27 accompanying him tipped its wing and showed it was armed, causing the F-16 to veer off.
The Post reported NATO was conducting military exercises in Eastern Europe, but there was no report of which nation was flying the jet which came in close proximity to Shoigu’s plane.
In an email to the Post, NATO confirmed the intercept, saying that “three Russian aircraft, including two fighters,” had been tracked over the Baltic Sea.
“As the aircraft did not identify themselves or respond to air traffic control, NATO fighter jets scrambled to identify them, according to standard procedure,” the statement said. “NATO has no information as to who was on board. We assess the Russian pilots’ behavior as safe and professional.”
Wednesday’s incident is the latest in a string of aerial incidents that have caused rising tensions between the West and Russia.