For Second Time in Two Days, Russia Scrambles Jet to Intercept US Spy Plane in Black Sea

The latest incident comes less than a day after Russian warplanes intercepted NATO spy planes flying near Russia’s borders in the Black and Baltic Seas.

A Russian Aerospace Forces Sukhoi Su-27 fighter was scrambled to intercept and shadow a US P-8A Poseidon spy plane over the Black Sea, Russia’s National Defence Management Center announced Thursday.

“The crew of the Russian fighter jet approached to within a safe distance of the aerial object, identified as an American P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft,” the Center said in a statement.

The Su-27 was said to have returned to its airfield after the US plane turned away from Russia’s maritime border. “The violation of the state border of the Russian Federation was prevented,” the military command center added.

Earlier Thursday, media reported that a Royal Air Force RC-135W had carried out a reconnaissance flight about 40-60 km off the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. In a separate incident, the fifth of its kind over the past 24 hours, a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reportedly approached the Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

On Wednesday, Russian fighter jets were also scrambled to intercept US and German spy planes testing Russian air defences in the Black and Baltic Seas.

The steady stream of flights and interceptions this week are just the latest among thousands of similar patrols taking place along Russia’s borders in recent years, with NATO spy planes, reconnaissance drones, bombers and fighters approaching Russia in the Barents, Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas, in the west and the Seas of Japan and Okhotsk in the east. Russia has repeatedly warned that these NATO patrols may lead to unintended escalation of tensions. The Pentagon has occasionally accused accused Russian aircraft of carrying out “unsafe” maneuvers during interceptions.

The US and several NATO partners plus Ukraine and Georgia kicked off major drills in the western Black Sea this week, with Russia staging its own exercises off Crimea.

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