The UK has urged Russia to respect international airspace after a United States drone crash landed in the Black Sea following an alleged collision with Russian aircraft.
The European Command of the US military’s said on Tuesday that two Russian Su-27 aircraft conducted an “unsafe and unprofessional intercept”, forcing their drone to land in the water.
Washington summoned Russian ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, to the State Department to protest over the alleged collision and said its air force would continue to fly in international airspace over the Black Sea, which has been a flashpoint since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.
Speaking about the incident, British defence minister Ben Wallace said: “The key here is that all parties respect international airspace and we urge the Russians to do so.”
“The Americans have said they think it is unprofessional,” he added
Elisabeth Braw, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said the conflict was so tense “because it really is the first direct contact that the public knows about between the West and Russia”.
Meanwhile, British Royal Air Force and German fighter jets have intercepted a Russian aircraft flying over Estonian airspace.
Reports from the BBC said: “The interception itself was routine but it is the first time such an operation has been carried out together by the two countries.”
The UK and Germany are conducting planned joint Nato air policing in the region and intercepted the refuelling aircraft because it failed to communicate with Estonian air traffic control.
Britain’s armed forces minister, James Heappey, said: “Nato continues to form the bedrock of our collective security. This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve to challenge any potential threat to Nato’s borders, while demonstrating our combined strength.” – Guardian
Elsewhere, the UN was scrambling on Tuesday to ensure a Ukrainian grain exports deal aimed to ease the global food crisis can continue, but its fate remained unclear days before the March 18th expiry date.
Talks between top Russian and United Nations officials in Geneva ended on Monday with Moscow saying it would not oppose prolonging the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative, as many had feared. – Guardian
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