US spy plane evaded Russian jets

A United States reconnaissance plane recently crossed into Swedish airspace to avoid being intercepted by Russian fighter jets, The New York Times reported Sunday. 

“The aircraft commander, acting in a professional and safe manner, maneuvered the aircraft to avoid a possible encounter by Russian aircraft,” the United States European Command said in a statement, according to the Times.

Russian aircraft approached the U.S. Air Force RC-135 electronic surveillance plane on July 18 in an area U.S. officials said was international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

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The close encounter happened just a day after the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. The U.S. has accused Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine of shooting it down with an SA-11 Buk missile they might have obtained from Russia.

Ukraine has also accused Russia of shooting down some of its fighter jets around the same time period.

The incident happened two days after the Obama administration lodged its first set of sector sanctions against Russia, which targeted two major Russian banks and two energy firms. Last week, the U.S., in coordination with the European Union, imposed the strongest sanctions yet against Russia that targets its energy, defense and financial sectors.

Russia’s defense ministry announced Monday that it will be holding military exercises near the Ukraine border this week, which will involve 100 aircraft, BBC News reports.

According to the report, a spokesman said bombers, fighter jets and helicopters will participate in the operation.  

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