Russian MiG-31 fighter plane escorts US planes after Ukrainian border retreat
A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet was dispatched to escort an American reconnaissance plane over the Pacific Ocean during the last tit-for-tat maneuver between the countries.
The incident follows Russia’s announcement that it would withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border after a military build-up that had raised concerns in the international community.
Russian agencies reported that Russian airspace control detected the American plane over neutral waters.
“To identify the aerial target and prevent violation of the state border of the Russian Federation, a MiG-31 fighter from the Eastern Military District air defense forces was deployed,” a statement from the district said. military in eastern Russia, according to Tass.
“The Russian fighter’s crew identified the air target as a US Air Force RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft and escorted it over the Pacific Ocean,” the statement added.
“After the foreign military plane turned away from the state border, the Russian fighter returned safely to the airfield at the base.”
Using the typical wording of such statements, he added that “no violation of the Russian state border was allowed” and that the flight of the Russian fighter plane was carried out “in full compliance with the rules. international use of airspace “.
The Russian Defense Ministry tweeted footage it said showed the Russian fighter escorting the plane during the incident.
The ministry shared footage of a similar incident last week when a MiG-31 fighter escorted the same type of US reconnaissance aircraft along the southeast coast of Kamchatka in the far east of the country. .
NATO has reported an increase in interceptions of Russian planes amid heightened tensions and mistrust between Moscow, the United States and other members of the alliance. This week, NATO dispatched F-16 jets to track two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers, which were escorted by Su-27 and Su-35 fighter jets over the Baltic Sea.
Earlier this month, Moscow said it sent a MiG-31 to escort a Norwegian Air Force Falcon 20 reconnaissance plane over the Barents Sea.
Moscow has long complained about NATO activity near its border and warned that this could lead to escalation. The increase in interceptions and escorts by Allied, American and Russian planes comes amid a spike in tensions following the reinforcement of Russian troops on its border with Ukraine.
On Friday, Russia announced that it had started to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border. It followed the announcement by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that Russian troops “have shown their ability to defend the country”.
However, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the withdrawal “would not end either the current escalation, or the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in general”.
This story has been updated.