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French Military Reports Second 'Interaction' Between Russian Jets & French Aircraft Over Black Sea

Sputnik News

Ilya Tsukanov

The Russian Ministry of Defence reported a day earlier that Sukhoi Su-27 fighters had been scrambled to intercept and accompany French Rafale and Mirage-2000 jets, as well as a French Air Force C-135 refuelling aircraft, as they flew over the Black Sea.

Two French warplanes and a tanker refueler were tracked by a pair of Russian fighters on Thursday as the former flew over international airspace in the Black Sea, French Armed Forces spokesman Col. Pascal Ianni has said.

Speaking to Reuters, Ianni said the French aircraft were involved in a NATO "observation mission," and carrying out their activities "in accordance with international regulations."

"The two [French] planes remotely detected two Russian fighter planes which have just come closer to them, but which are not disturbing or hindering the progress of the mission," Ianni said.

The officer characterised the Russian planes' operations near the French aircraft as "strategic communication" by the Russian side to indicate their presence in the area.

The incident was the second of its kind in two days. On Wednesday, the Russian military reported that Su-27 jets were scrambled to intercept and escort French Air Force Rafale and Mirage-2000 fighters, as well as a French Air Force C-135 tanker, as they flew toward Russian maritime borders in the Black Sea. The Russian jets were said to have returned to home base after the foreign aircraft turned away from the border.

Later on Wednesday, the French military confirmed that at least one Russian Su-27 "approached and then followed our planes for most of their transit over the Black Sea." The military stressed that "this interaction took place in a professional manner and without representing any danger," and that "this type of situation is common" and "did not hinder the mission of the French aircraft or their freedom of navigation in international airspace."

France has carefully joined its NATO allies in beefing up its presence in the Black Sea regions amid growing tensions between the Western bloc and Russia over Ukraine. The country last deployed a warship to the region in September 2020, but has carried out surveillance flights in the area repeatedly this year.

Moscow has expressed concerns about NATO activities near its maritime borders, pointing to the repeated deployment of alliance fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance planes and spy drones near the Russian frontier. Russia's radar networks pick up on the presence of foreign planes, and jets are scrambled regularly to intercept and track the aircraft when necessary. On occasion, incidents occur, usually involving the US, in which both sides accuse one another of "unsafe and unprofessional behaviour" in the operation of aircraft.

© Sputnik

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