The Russian Su-27 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept the USAF and Swedish reconnaissance planes on Monday, according to state-owned TASSS news agency. It then escorted them away from the Russian border. The Russian defence ministry said today that the planes met in neutral airspace to prevent a breach of Russian airspace.
The Russian defence ministry said in a statement: “In order to intercept the targets, a Su-27 fighter of Russian Baltic Fleet’s Air Defence on-duty forces took off.
“It approached the air objects at a safe distance and identified them as a US Air Force’s RC-135 and a Swedish Air Force’s Gulfstream reconnaissance aircraft.
“The Su-27 pilot reported on the identification of foreign reconnaissance aircraft and accompanied them, preventing violations of the Russian airspace borders in compliance with all necessary security measures.
“The flight of the Russian Su-27 was carried out strictly in accordance with international rules for the use of airspace.”
The Kremlin also released a video of what it claimed was the interception taking place.
NATO’s Baltops drills are taking place until June 21 in the south of the Baltic.
This involves around 40 naval vessels and 40 planes from 18 different countries.
The RC-135 is a reconnaissance aircraft used primarily for “intelligence collection purposes”, according to CNN.
A US military official confirmed the meeting, but said it was “safe and professional”.
Another US official told CNN: “A RC-135 was flying a routine mission in international airspace over the Baltic sea.
“It was intercepted by a Russian Federation SU-27 aircraft.
“The intercept was deemed safe.”