Russia says jets scrambled US strategic bomber as it flew over Baltic toward border


Russia’s defense ministry said Russian fighter jets were scrambled on Monday to intercept a pair of US strategic bombers flying over the Baltic Sea.

“On March 20, 2023, radars of the Western Military District Air Defense Unit on duty detected two air targets flying over the Baltic Sea and flying towards the border of the Russian Federation,” the ministry said. , said Russian state media TASS. “The targets have been identified as two U.S. Air Force B-52H strategic bombers.”

A Su-35 fighter jet flew to the skies to “prevent border violations” by US fighters who allegedly reached “designated air patrol areas,” only to find that the target had left Russian territory. After that, I returned to my home base. According to the ministry.

The ministry said “no violations of the borders of the Russian Federation were permitted,” but did not specify which part of the Russian border in the Baltic Sea where the incident occurred. It has direct borders with four NATO member states in the region via the Kryingrad coastal enclaves of , Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the U.S. Air Force in Europe said the bombers were conducting missions with NATO allies and partners in Estonian airspace as part of “normally scheduled training operations.” .

“The flight remained within Estonian airspace for the entire flight. 50 nautical miles from Russian airspace,” the statement said. “B-52s have never come into contact with Russian aircraft.”

The deployment comes days after two Russian fighter jets faced each other and eventually forcibly shot down a US surveillance drone over the Black Sea near Russian-held Crimea.

According to the Pentagon, a Russian Su-27 encountered a General Atomics MQ-9 “Reaper” off the southern coast of Ukraine on March 14, harassing the unmanned aerial vehicle for at least 30 minutes and flying in front of it. and dumped the fuel. One of his Russian fighter jets then clipped the drone’s propeller, prompting the US operator to scrap the drone on the high seas.

In what appeared to be an attempt to escalate the situation, U.S. Army General Mark Milley said he did not know exactly whether the Russian pilot deliberately brought down the $30 million drone.

“Was it intentional or not? We don’t know yet,” he said at the march. Press conference on the 15th. “I know the interception was intentional. I know the aggressive behavior was intentional. I also know it’s very unprofessional.”

Millie’s comments were echoed by John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson.

“At best, it’s a reckless flight,” he said. “Worst, reckless and incompetent”

Meanwhile, the Russian pilot involved in the incident received an award for his actions. On March 17, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu commended the pilots for their efforts to prevent US drones from entering Russia’s restricted airspace.

“Russian Defense Minister General Sergey Shoigu has awarded the pilot of the Su-27 plane a state award for not allowing the US MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle to violate restricted airspace during a special military operation. issued an order to do so, TASS reported.

Following the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, Russia imposed flight restrictions over some airspace in the peninsula and surrounding international waters. Moscow argued that the ban was in line with “international norms.”

The Russian government also claimed that the pilot “returned safely to his home airfield without using on-board weapons and without contact with the UAV.”