Russian fighter wards off Nato jet nearing minister’s plane

NATO f18 jet flew too close to russian plane

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 an F-18 fighter that flew close to the minister’s plane.

Russian news agencies carried a Nato statement saying warplanes of the Western military alliance moved to identify a Russian aircraft over the Baltic Sea without knowing Mr Shoigu was on it.

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.

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