Russian fighter jets 'buzz' American spy plane in the Black Sea

Video shows Russian Su-30 fighter jets buzzing a US Poseidon spy plane over the Black Sea as another NATO ship is ‘tracked’ by Putin’s forces two weeks after HMS Defender stand-off

  • Russian fighter jets scrambled to escort US spy plane in Black Sea late Tuesday 
  • Two Su-30 fighters were filmed following Boeing P-8 Poseidon plane of US Navy 
  • It is the latest standoff between Russian and western powers in Black Sea 
  • Two weeks ago, Russian ships fired warning shots at UK vessel HMS Defender 
  • Russia also said it was ‘tracking’ a Spanish warship in the Black Sea today 

Russian fighter jets have been filmed ‘buzzing’ a US spy plane over the Black Sea in the latest standoff between Moscow and western powers in the contested region. 

Footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry showed two Sukhoi Su-30 fighters flying close alongside a Boeing P-8 Poseidon of the US Navy on Tuesday evening.

The Kremlin said fighters were scrambled as the plane approached its airspace and blocked in from ‘violating the state border’.

It did not say where precisely the intercept happened, though it is likely to have been close to Crimea – which Russia considers to be part of its territory but western powers say is Ukrainian territory that has been illegally occupied by Moscow’s forces.

Then, on Wednesday, Russia said it is tracking a Spanish warship in the Black Sea amid joint Ukraine-NATO military exercises in the region which Moscow has condemned as a ‘provocation’.

It comes exactly two weeks after Russian warships and fighter jets shadowed British warship HMS Defender as it sailed close to the coast of Crimea, with Moscow claiming warning shots and bombs were fired as it was ‘chased away’.

This is the moment Russian fighter jets ‘buzzed’ a US spy plane over the Black Sea after accusing it of approaching their airspace

 Two Su-30 fighters were sent to intercept the Boeing P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance plane, claiming they blocked it from ‘violating Russian airspace’

The British Navy denies that account, saying no shots were fired at the vessel – though admitted jets made low passes and Russian ships followed it as it sailed along the ‘shortest route’ from Odessa towards Georgia.

Speaking about Tuesday’s standoff-in-the-skies, a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman said: ‘On the evening of July 6, Russian airspace control devices over the neutral waters of the Black Sea detected an air target approaching the state border of the Russian Federation.’

Two Su-30s were dispatched to identify the aircraft and prevent it entering Russian airspace, according to the Russians.

‘The crews of Russian fighters identified the air target as a Boeing P-8 Poseidon and escorted it over the Black Sea.

‘The flight of Russian aircraft was carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace.

‘Violation of the state border of the Russian Federation was not allowed.’

There was no immediate comment from the US and no direct evidence that the plane had sought to encroach Russian airspace. 

Russia is tracking a Spanish naval ship in the Black Sea, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Wednesday, as Ukraine and NATO countries both held military drills in the area.

The American plane is thought to have been participating in NATO Sea Breeze drills which are currently taking place in the Black Sea

One of the Russian fighter pilots is seen in the cockpit of his jet amid increasing tensions between western powers and Moscow’s forces in the Black Sea

The ministry said the Spanish ship had entered the Black Sea on Wednesday to take part in the Sea Breeze 2021 military drills.

The drills, which began on June 28 and will last until July 10, involve 30 ships, 40 aircraft and around 5,000 troops from 32 nations including the likes of Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Officially a defensive exercise to test ‘interoperability’ between the countries’ militaries, the drills will also send a message to Russia as it takes a more-aggressive stance in the Black Sea and surrounding region.

It comes after Russia moved some 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery pieces on Ukraine’s border – the biggest build-up of troops since it annexed Crimea in 2014.

Moscow called the move a training exercise to test combat readiness, but many of its forces still remain in the region.

That was followed by an icy summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin – the first since Biden became president – in which the two men drew red lines for their future relationship in an attempt to restore ‘predictability’.

Russia views any military drills on its border as a provocation, fearing they could be used as a pretext for an invasion.

It comes after the Russian navy said it had fired warning shots at British destroyer HMS Defender as it carried out a patrol in the Black Sea 

In response to the Sea Breeze drill, Moscow has deployed dozens of aircraft including fighters and bombers to Crimea and accused the west of engaging in ‘brinkmanship’ in the Black Sea.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov also told Russian media that ‘provocateurs’ risk an escalation,

‘They would be better off leaving their provocations aside next time and staying away from that area because they will get punched in the nose,’ he said.

But Commander Daniel Marzluff, the U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Black Sea Region Engagement Lead, said the Sea Breeze drills are ‘essential’ in deterring Russian aggression.

‘This is clearly the most effective way to bring a unified front to this kind of rogue action,’ Marzluff told Newsweek.

Russia will hold a major strategic military exercise, Zapad 2021, in September with Belarus, an annual event focused on what Russia calls the ‘western strategic direction.’

Russia’s Defense Ministry said last month that it planned to monitor the Sea Breeze exercises and ‘if necessary, respond adequately to the evolving situation in the interests of ensuring the military security of the Russian Federation.’

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