Russia almost shot down British spy aircraft close to Ukraine, leaked doc says Lalrp


A Russian fighter jet almost shot down a British surveillance aircraft final 12 months, based on a leaked U.S. army doc circulating on-line, an incident extra important than was beforehand disclosed and that would have drawn america and its NATO allies instantly into the Ukraine conflict.

The close to miss occurred on Sept. 29 off the coast of Crimea, the closely fortified Ukrainian peninsula that Russia seized in 2014 and has used to base its Black Sea naval fleet and launch assaults elsewhere in Ukraine.

The doc, considered one of dozens in a trove of leaked categorised Pentagon paperwork that has triggered a Justice Division investigation, refers back to the incident as a “near-shoot down of UK RJ,” a reference to the “Rivet Joint” moniker widespread for RC-135 reconnaissance planes. The plane is used to gather radio transmissions and different digital messages.

Intelligence leak exposes U.S. spying on adversaries and allies

U.Ok. Protection Minister Ben Wallace disclosed the incident to the British Home of Commons in October, saying that two Russian Su-27 fighter jets had intercepted the RC-135 in worldwide airspace over the Black Sea, flying “recklessly,” with one aircraft coming inside 15 ft of the British plane.

One of many Russian jets “launched a missile” at a distance, Wallace instructed lawmakers then — however he didn’t describe the incident as a near-shootdown, attributed the missile launch to a “technical malfunction,” and mentioned he had spoken with senior Russian protection officers about it.

The incident highlights the balancing act that Western army officers have sought to take care of as they try to help the Ukrainian army and gather details about the conflict with out being drawn instantly into battle with Moscow. Russian officers have sought to painting NATO nations as aggressors, whereas america and its allies have mentioned they’re supporting Ukraine however will not be conflict at Russia.

Below NATO’s treaty, if a member of the army alliance is a sufferer of an armed assault, all members of the alliance will think about it an assault and collectively reply.

U.S. protection officers declined to remark in regards to the contents of the leaked doc, as they’ve with different info within the trove that was discovered on messaging apps together with Discord, Telegram and Twitter. An official with the British Embassy in Washington additionally declined to remark, and the Russian Embassy didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The doc was printed with headers for the Pentagon’s Joint Employees, and particulars surveillance flights over the Black Sea from the day of the reported near-shootdown as much as Feb. 26.

The doc is labeled “SECRET/NOFORN,” a classification that signifies it isn’t to be shared with non-U.S. residents. It particulars quite a few different Russian reactions to surveillance flights by U.S., British and French plane between October and the top of February, together with one on Dec. 30 during which one other British Rivet Joint, accompanied by two British Hurricane fighter jets, was intercepted by Russian jets that got here inside 100 ft.

In one other occasion, a U.S. MQ-9 surveillance drone was intercepted on Feb. 22, with Russian plane coming inside 100 ft. About two weeks later, on March 14, two Russian Su-27 jets intercepted an American MQ-9, dumping gas on the unmanned aerial car and finally colliding with it. The collision prompted U.S. personnel remotely piloting the car to down it within the Black Sea, about 56 miles off the coast of Crimea, U.S. officers have mentioned.

A map on the doc exhibits a boundary drawn over sections of the Black Sea to mark the place surveillance planes might fly. It seems to start about 12 miles off the coast of Crimea, adhering to worldwide legislation. The map additionally features a second line about 50 miles from the shore labeled “SECDEF Directed Standoff,” indicating that Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin might have ordered U.S. pilots to maintain plane farther from the peninsula.

Austin mentioned in March that america will proceed to fly “wherever worldwide legislation permits,” rejecting Moscow’s declare to a self-declared exclusion zone over prolonged components of the Black Sea.

French and British plane made crewed surveillance flights over the Black Sea between Sept. 29 and Feb. 26, based on the doc, whereas the People relied on drones that embody the RQ-4 International Hawk, the RQ-170 Sentinel and the MQ-9 Reaper. A handful of those flights occurred every month, the doc mentioned. U.S. army officers have mentioned they sometimes file public flight plans for such flights.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, in March referred to as Russian conduct within the downing of the MQ-9 in March a part of a sample of aggressive acts towards america, Britain and different nations.

“We have now to determine precisely what the best way forward is,” he mentioned on the time, talking at a Pentagon information convention. He characterised the conduct of Russian pilots as “very unprofessional and unsafe.”

A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, mentioned final month that it’s essential to maintain the Black Sea and the skies over it open to all nations.

“The Black Sea,” he mentioned, “is a crucial worldwide seaway supporting lots of our NATO allies, together with Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, and doesn’t belong to anyone nation.”

One 12 months of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine

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