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Russian jets force NATO jet away from minister’s plane

The file photo shows a Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet.

Two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets, convoying a plane carrying Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, have chased away a NATO F-18 fighter jet that tried to shadow the military aircraft over neutral waters in the Baltic Sea.

Shoigu was returning to the capital, Moscow, from the Russian Baltic region of Kaliningrad, which is enclosed by Poland and Lithuania, on Tuesday when the incident occurred, Russia’s TASS news agency and Zvezda TV, the television channel of Russia’s Ministry of Defense reported.

In footage released by the ministry, the NATO fighter jet is seen approaching Shoigu’s aircraft, whose camera filmed the F-18 up-close. Moments later, one of the Su-27 Flankers chased away the intruding jet.

The Sukhoi Su-27, which is known by NATO as Flanker, is Russia’s fourth-generation fighter jet that has been manufactured since 1980s.

According to RT, a similar air encounter occurred over the Baltic Sea in 2016, when Eurofighter Typhoon multirole warplanes shadowed Shoigu’s plane. At the time, the NATO fighter jets maintained a reasonably far distance, of about 2 kilometers, from the Russian minister’s transport, though.

TASS said that the intruding warplane in the newer incident had been a Spanish F-18 jet based in Lithuania.

The Russian defense minister had flown to Kaliningrad to attend a ceremony marking the start of the construction of a naval academy.

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