Russia warns US & NATO over reckless behavior
Russia's Foreign Ministry has handed the American embassy in Moscow a protest note over a series of incidents in which it said NATO aircraft endangered the safety of the country's airspace and the lives of civilians.
The US-led military bloc has moved from probing Russian borders with flights and “dangerous maneuvers by naval ships” to “provocations against civilian aircraft,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
Moscow called for “substantive dialogue” on security guarantees and ways to de-escalate military and political tensions, but warned the US it reserves the right to respond with “all the means at our disposal … to prevent and eliminate emerging threats.”
US and NATO military flights are carried out without radio communications, flight plans or air traffic control clearances and “pose serious risks to the safety of civil aircraft,” the ministry said.
The note handed to the Americans on Wednesday listed at least five incidents, including three just last week. On December 3, a CL-600 US reconnaissance plane cut through the established civil aircraft route over the Black Sea while rapidly descending. Russian air traffic control warned the flight operated by Aeroflot, the country’s largest carrier, which then changed its track instead and avoided a potentially fatal collision, the Foreign Ministry said.
A Maltese passenger jet en route from Sochi to Skopje along the same corridor had to change course as well. Later that day, Russian jets were sent to intercept a RC-135 strategic spy plane over the Black Sea.
“We see such dangerous situations all the time,” said Zakharova.
A civilian charter flying from Anapa to Moscow on October 6 had to change course over the Black Sea to avoid collision with a NATO Reaper drone, she added.
The statement comes as tensions between Moscow and Washington show no sign of dying down. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, spoke directly via video link for nearly two hours. Though no breakthroughs were made, both sides confirmed the discussion was important to try and resolve the most pressing issues.
One of them involved Western concerns of Russia allegedly planning open military aggression against Ukraine, something that the Kremlin has vehemently denied, while branding such reports as fake news.