Russia scrambles fighter jets to escort US strategic bombers over Black Sea

Incident coincides with a visit to the region by the US secretary of defence


Reuters October 20, 2021
A view from a Russian Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet shows, what the Russian Defence Ministry identified as a US B-1B strategic bomber and KC-135 military refueling aircraft flying over the Black Sea, in this still image taken from video released on October 20, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW:

Russia scrambled two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets to escort a pair of US B-1B strategic bombers over the Black Sea, Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday, an incident that coincided with a visit to the region by the US secretary of defence.

The supersonic US Cold war-era planes were originally designed to carry nuclear bombs and missiles but now carry conventional payloads.

"Russian fighter crews identified the aerial targets as two US Air Force supersonic strategic B-1B bombers, accompanied by two KC-135 refuelling planes, and escorted them over the waters of the Black Sea," the defence ministry said in a statement accompanied by video footage of the US aircraft in flight.

Read more: ‘Russia offered US use of Central Asia bases for Afghan intel’ 

"After the foreign warplanes had been turned away from Russia's state border, the Russian fighters safely returned to their home air base."

It said the Russian aircraft had carried out their flight in strict compliance with international airspace rules and that Russia's borders had not been breached.

Visiting Ukraine on Tuesday, Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, said that Russia was an obstacle to peace in eastern Ukraine and called on Moscow to end destabilising activities in the Black Sea and along Ukraine's borders.

Also read: Russian Su-27s intercept French military planes over Black Sea

Moscow blames Kyiv for a lack of progress in implementing a peace deal covering eastern Ukraine, something Ukraine denies.

A similar incident with a B-1B occurred on Sunday over the Sea of Japan, just days after an incident with a US naval destroyer, also in the far east.

B-1B bombers are being used in a series of exercises with NATO allies across Europe encompassing the Arctic, the Baltics and the Black Sea, Air Force Magazine reported earlier this month.

 

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