NATO official accuses Russian fighter jet of acting in 'unsafe manner'

NATO official accuses Russian fighter jet of acting in 'unsafe manner'
© Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

A NATO official said Wednesday that a Russian fighter jet acted in an "unsafe" manner a day earlier when it forced a NATO aircraft to maneuver to avoid any danger.

The official told CNN that two Russian aircraft had been flying with their transponders off and were without contact to local air traffic control.

A third aircraft, which the jets were escorting and reportedly carried Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, traveled normally and responded to requests for identification, the official said.

Two F-18 fighter jets assigned to a NATO policing mission in Lithuania were scrambled "in order to assess the situation," the official told the network.

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"The Tu-214 airplane had a valid flight plan, did identify itself and responded to air traffic control. The two escorting Su-27 flew without a flight plan, their transponders were switched off and they did not talk to air traffic control," the official told CNN.

"Once the [Russian] planes' intention was assessed, the two F-18 fighter aircraft turned left to move away from the intercepted aircraft. Shortly before, one of the Russian Su-27 fighters also turned left to almost cut into the flight path of one of the F-18s in an unsafe manner," the NATO official said.

The remarks come a day after Russia's state-run media reported that the two Russian jets had forced NATO aircraft to back off in an encounter over the Baltic Sea.

A NATO official told Russia's TASS news outlet that jets were flown near the Russian plane in order to identify it.

“Jets from NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled to identify the aircraft, which flew close to Allied airspace,” the official said previously. “Once identification of the aircraft had taken place, the NATO jets returned to base.”