Ben Wallace says jets buzzed a British surveillance aircraft for 90 minutes.
OCTOBER 20, 2022 3:52 PM
LONDON — A Russian fighter jet last month “released a missile” near a U.K. aircraft over the Black Sea, which Moscow blamed on a “technical malfunction,” the U.K. defense secretary said Thursday.
Speaking to the House of Commons, Ben Wallace said on September 29 that a British unarmed surveillance aircraft on routine patrol in international airspace over the Black Sea was “interacted” with by two Russian armed SU-27 fighter planes for about 90 minutes.
During that time, one of the Russian jets “released a missile in the vicinity” of the RAF aircraft, which completed its patrol and returned to base, Wallace added.
Wallace said he communicated his concerns over this “potentially dangerous engagement” in a letter directly to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu and the Russian chief of defense staff in Moscow.
Russia replied on October 10 that they had conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the incident, and blamed the missile release on a “technical malfunction” of its SU-27 fighter. Moscow also acknowledged the incident took place “in international airspace,” the U.K. defense secretary said.
U.K. patrols in the area have now restarted, this time escorted by British fighter aircraft, Wallace said.
“Everything we do is considered and calibrated with regard to ongoing conflict in the region and in accordance with international law,” he added.
Wallace continued: “Calibration is incredibly important to me. We are dealing with the president and indeed Russian forces who, as we have seen from the Rivet Joint incident [described above], are not beyond making the wrong calculation or indeed deciding that the rules don’t apply to them.”