A Russian Sukhoi Su-35 intercepted two US B-52H bombers that were allegedly moving towards its border over the Baltic Sea, TASS reported on Monday, March 20 citing Russia’s Defense Ministry.
The Ministry claimed that the Russian jet had to scramble to intercept the two bombers and only returned “after foreign military planes move[ed] away from the state border of the Russian Federation.” It added that the two US bombers were not allowed to violate Russian state borders and the sortie of the Russian jet fighter was performed in strict compliance with international law.
This was the third such air incident between the forces of Russia and the NATO countries in the last week.
On March 14, in the first such incident since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a US MQ-9 reaper drone was drowned in the Black Sea. The US alleged that the drone was targeted by Russian fighter jets, however, Russia claimed that the drone had sunk due to technical reasons.
Two days later, on March 18, jets from the British and German air forces, which are part of NATO forces, claimed to have intercepted a Russian aircraft allegedly flying close to Estonian air space.
After the March 14 incident, Russia stated that flying drones over the Black Sea, close to its borders, was a “provocation.” It also accused the US of using drones to collect data that could be used against the country.
The US and NATO forces are backing the Ukrainian government in the war against Russian forces in the Donbass region, ongoing for over a year. These countries have also provided billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine and imposed large-scale economic and political sanctions on Russia.
NATO countries also recently agreed to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, despite Russians declaring that any such move will invite a military response. Last week, Poland announced that it will provide four MIG-29s to Ukraine.
The US has called the drowning of its drone an aggressive act and warned that such actions are “dangerous and could lead to miscalculation and unintended escalation.”
Following the incident, some US lawmakers even called for shooting down Russian planes. Responding to such calls, Russian ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov warned that any “deliberate attack on a Russian aircraft in neutral airspace is not just a crime under international law, but an open declaration of war against the largest nuclear power.”