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Russian jet ‘released missile’ near RAF aircraft during patrol over Black Sea

The defence secretary revealed that a missile was fired from a Russian plane near an unarmed RAF aircraft on a routine patrol above the Black Sea.

In a statement updating MPs about the war in Ukraine Ben Wallace stated that the incident occurred on September 29, and that Russia acknowledged that it took place in international aviation.

The RAF RC-135 aircraft was flying routinely over the Black Sea when it was “shadowed by” two Russian-armed SU-27 fighter planes.

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Wallace stated that it is common for aircraft to be shadowed, but that “during that interaction however it transpired, one of the SU27 aircraft released a missile near the RAF Rivet Joint above visual range.”

Although he described the incident as “potentially dangerous”, he said that it wasn’t considered a deliberate escalation.

He said that it showed the Russian military were “not beyond” their ability to decide “the rules don’t apply to” them.

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“While this was clearly the release of an weapon, we have seen very close flying near to US, UK NATO assets in the past few years,” Mr Wallace stated.

“In one incident I was aware of, the Russian fighter flew within 15 feet of a NATO aircraft. This is dangerous, unwise and puts lives at risk.

The Commons were told by Russia that the Black Sea incident was caused by a “technical problem” with the SU-27 plane.

According to the British defense secretary, “Our analysis would agree it was a mistake.”

He stated that the interaction between the Russian plane and the Rivet joint lasted approximately 90 minutes. “The aircraft was returned to base after the patrol was completed.”

Image: A RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft. File pic

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Sergei Shoigu, the Russian chief of defense staff, was directly contacted by Mr Wallace.

He stated that he had made it clear in my letter that the aircraft was not armed and was operating in international airspace.

“I thought it prudent to suspend these surveillance until the Russian state responded.”

The UK’s patrols over the Black Sea were originally suspended but are now being escorted to their destination by fighter aircraft, Mr Wallace stated.

The cabinet minister stated that the UK shared information with allies and would continue to fly regular sorties in international airspace above the Black Sea with the RAF Rivet Joint – as it has since 2019.

Luke Pollard, Labour’s shadow defense minister, said that the incident was a “serious reminding about the importance to avoid escalation or miscalculation while continuing UK’s united support of Ukraine”.

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