UK, France dispatch jets to intercept Russian bombers over North Sea
Iran Press TV
Fri Sep 21, 2018 05:17AM
Britain and France have separately scrambled fighter jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers that they said were approaching UK airspace over the North Sea.
According to the British Defense Ministry, two British warplanes were deployed from a base in northeast Scotland to the coast off Newcastle on Thursday to monitor Russian long-range Blackjack bombers.
It said in a statement that the Russian aircraft did not respond to requests from air traffic control and continued flying through a UK "area of interest" over the North Sea.
"Subsequently, our fighters escorted the Russian Blackjacks north, out of the UK's area of interest. At no time did the Russian bombers enter UK sovereign airspace," it explained.
The ministry also confirmed that "at no time did the Russian bombers enter UK sovereign airspace."
French fighter jets were also deployed from an airbase in north-eastern France and detected one or several Russian planes, according to a spokesman for the French Air Force, Cyrille Duvivier.
"The usual response mechanisms were triggered: Rafale fighters took off in the late morning from the base of Saint-Dizier with a refueling plane and positioned themselves for possible intervention," the spokesman said.
Referring to the incident, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said the activity is "another reminder of the very serious military challenge that Russia poses us today."
The defense ministry says its military jets regularly monitor Russian aircraft near the country's airspace and that they intercepted jets near Romania last month.
Britain's Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster, said last month that the Air Force had had to scramble jets more than 80 times over the last decade to intercept Russian military aircraft.
Lancaster said in a speech in London that they were facing "an ever more assertive Russia."
Russia, however, has previously warned Britain about the moves, calling them "provocative."
In an incident in August, Moscow said the UK air force jets intercepted its military aircraft over the Black Sea in a dangerous fashion.
"Instead of strengthening anyone's security, the British authorities are using such a military presence (in the Black Sea area) for provocative actions," Russian embassy in London said in a statement at the time.
Russia says its activity in the Black Sea region is routine and compliant with international law.
Tensions between Britain and Russian have been high since the government in London accused Moscow of masterminding a nerve agent attack against Russia's former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on the British soil back in March.
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