Russia: MiG-31 fighter escorts US reconnaissance aircraft
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Russia has intercepted a US spy plane at a time of escalating military tensions between the two powers. Earlier today, the Russian National Defence Control Centre (RNDCC) said a Russian MiG-31 fighter had escorted a US spy plane away from Russia’s borders. In chilling footage, the American plane – a RC-135 US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft – can seen from the cockpit of the Russian warplane off the coast of the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia.
The Russian warplane had scrambled amid concerns that the US spy plane was about to “violate its state border”.
The RDNCC said that after escorting the foreign plane from the border, the Russian fighter safely returned to its airbase.
This follows mounting tensions along the Ukraine border with Russia, amid fears of an all-out war between the two sides.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed tens of thousands of troops and heavy military equipment close to the border with Ukraine in recent days.
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Kiev estimates there are now 85,000 Russian troops just six miles from its border and in Crimea.
The US, which is strongly allied to Ukraine, is sending two warships to the Black Sea, while Russia is also boosting its navy deployments in the area.
Earlier today, a top Russian official warned that Moscow could intervene in eastern Ukraine if Ukraine launches an assault on Russian-backed separatists there.
The official, Dmitry Kozak, said that Russian forces could intervene to “defend” Russian citizens.
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He also warned that an escalation could mark the “beginning of the end” for Ukraine.
On Friday, Kremlin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov also defended the Russian military buildup.
He called the border a “powder keg” and insisted that Russia “will not stand aside” if it believes hostilities could lead to “mass civilian casualties”.
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On Saturday, Ukraine’s defence minister said that Ukraine could be provoked into war by Russian aggravation in the the eastern Donbass region.
The minister, Andrii Taran, said: “At the same time, it should be noted that the intensification of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine is possible only if an appropriate political decision is made at the highest level in the Kremlin.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Russian troop numbers at the Ukraine border were the highest since 2014, when the conflict began.
She described the situation as “deeply concerning”.
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