Several Russian SU-27 fighter jets escorted a group of French and U.S. warplanes over the Black Sea on Dec. 9, according to a video released on Dec. 10 by Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
The defense ministry said airspace control systems in the country “detected aerial targets flying towards the Russian border over international waters in the Black Sea,” according to a statement obtained by Russian news agency TASS.
“The planes were stopped from violating the Russian border,” the ministry said. “After turning the foreign warplanes away from Russia’s border, the Russian fighter jets safely returned to their home airfield.”
French military officials said on Dec. 9 that two of its planes and a French refueling aircraft were being tracked by two Russian fighter jets in international airspace over the Black Sea. A day earlier, a Russian jet had already escorted two French warplanes, which Moscow said was to prevent the aircraft from entering Russian airspace.
The National Defense Management Center in Russia, which is part of the defense ministry, identified the intercepted planes as a Mirage 2000, a Rafale fighter, and a KC-135 refueling aircraft belonging to the French Air and Space Force. The group also included two U.S. reconnaissance aircraft: an Army CL-600 Artemis and an RC-135 from the Air Force, according to the center.
Armed Forces spokesman Col. Pascal Ianni told Reuters that the French planes were carrying out a NATO observation mission under international regulations. Such interactions aren’t uncommon, with similar incidents happening previously, but they come amid tensions between the West and Russia in the region.
Last week, U.S. intelligence released information and satellite imagery taken over the past month, showing Russia massing troops on the border with Ukraine. The West has spread concern that Russia might be preparing for a “massive offensive” against Ukraine as soon as early next year.
Moscow has denied all claims that the Kremlin is preparing for an offensive on Ukraine, rejecting Western concerns as part of efforts to smear Russia.
From NTD News