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Dramatic moment Russian fighter jets intercept US spy plane over Black Sea as tensions rise and experts fear escalation

A US spy plane was dramatically intercepted by Russian fighter jets over the Black Sea on Tuesday as experts fear violent escalation amid rising tensions between the US and Russia. 

The ground crew of the Southern Military District in Russia reported the US reconnaissance aircraft after it was detected on their radar system and a Sukhoi Su-30 fighter plane was sent to prevent it from crossing over the border. 

A spokesperson for the Russian National Defence Control Centre (NDCC) said: “The crew of the Russian fighter identified the air target as an EP-3E Ares aircraft of the US Air Force and escorted it.”

Russian authorities said there was no violation of the border after the fighter jet escorted the US plane away before returning to the home airfield. 

In a post on social media, the department wrote: “On July 13, 2021, an air target approaching the state border of the Russian Federation was detected over the Black Sea by radar control of the airspace of the duty air defense of the Southern Military District.

“To classify the air target and prevent violations of the state border of the Russian Federation, a duty air defense forces Su-30 fighter of the Southern Military District was airlifted.

“The crew of the Russian fighter identified the aerial target as an EP-3E ‘Ares’ electronic warfare aircraft of the US Air Force and took it for escort,” it added. 

“After the foreign military aircraft turned away from the state border of the Russian Federation, the Russian fighter returned safely to the home airfield.”

The NDCC claimed that the “flight of the Russian fighter was carried out in strict accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace.” 


The incident comes amid rising tensions in the Black Sea region with Nato and Russian forces refusing to change course. 

The area has been a hotspot for tensions in recent years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

Moscow’s seizure of the region from Ukraine gained it a stronger footing in the Black Sea, alongside its existing naval base in Sevastopol. 

Mark Simakovsky, who was formerly Europe/NATO chief of staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, told Newsweek that the Black Sea is a trigger that "creates the potential for an explosion in U.S.-Russian tension.”

He said that both sides will be "very worried and concerned about" these triggers. 

A NATO official told Newsweek that Nato would not be changing operations despite these concerns. 

"NATO ships routinely operate in the Black Sea, consistent with international law, usually patrolling the waters for around two-thirds of the year," the official said.

"NATO supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. We do not and will not recognize Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and denounce its temporary occupation."

The incident with the spy plane comes only days after Russian fighter jets rehearsed bombing enemy ships in the Black Sea – days after threatening to sink a British destroyer sailing through the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he could attack any vessel because the West knows "full well that they can't win in that war."

During a televised, hour-long Q&A, the Kremlin strongman said: "Even if we had sunk the British destroyer near Crimea it is unlikely that the world would have been on the verge of World War 3."

He added: "Those who are doing this know that they couldn't be the winners in this war.

"We are on our land. We're fighting for ourselves and our future."

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