A Russian plane with more than 140 people on board had to change course to avoid collision with a NATO spy plane, avoiding disaster by metres, according to authorities from Moscow.
Transport officials in Russia claim the plane ‘descended rapidly’ across the planned route of a Tel Aviv-Moscow Aeroflot service with 142 passengers on board late on Saturday over the Black Sea.
According to reports, the Airbus A330 had to lower its path by 500 metres (1,600 feet) to keep a safe distance from the CL-600 Artemis aircraft, which pilots were able to see from the cockpit.
One report claimed there was less than 20 metres (66ft) vertically between the paths of the planes.
According to reports, the Airbus A330 had to lower its path by 500 metres (1,600 feet) to keep a safe distance from the CL-600 Artemis, which pilots were able to see from the cockpit
One report claimed there was less than 20 metres (66ft) between the paths of the planes
A second plane, a private jet flying from Sochi to Skopje in northern Macedonian, also had to divert from its path to avoid the aircraft, according to the Russian transport authority.
Russian media reported that fighter jets were deployed to escort two American spy aircraft over the Black Sea region on Friday.
According to Russian reports, an air traffic controller said: ‘One of the two reconnaissance aircraft over the Black Sea chaotically crossed established civil aviation routes and approached the passenger Airbus Tel Aviv-Moscow.
”The crew (of the passenger plane) reported the hazardous proximity alarm going off. There was less than 20 metres vertically between the aircraft.
Aeroflot’s A330 (pictured) had to change its flight path to avoid collision
The NATO spy plane was visible to pilots from the commercial flight over the Black Sea
A Russian Federal Air Transport Agency official added: ‘The directions and levels of flights of civil aircraft were promptly changed.
‘By the measures taken, Russian air traffic controllers ensured the safe operation of flights in the above area over the open waters of the Black Sea.’
Russian news agency Interfax said: ‘The offending aircraft did not respond to requests from the ground.
‘Increased activity by NATO aircraft near Russia’s borders… creates a risk of dangerous accidents involving civilian aircraft,’ adding that it would lodge a diplomatic protest.
It is believed that the plane flew from an air force base in Greece.
The near miss comes as tensions between Russia and Western nations rise, amid accusations that Moscow is massing troops on its border with Ukraine in preparation for an invasion.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president (pictured) has long accused the West of provocation with their open invitation for Ukraine to join NATO
President Joe Biden (pictured) is likely to speak to Vladimir Putin soon, according to reports
A satellite photo released on November 1 by Maxar Technologies shows troops gathering near the town of Yelnya. Washington’s warning comes as Putin masses his forces close to Ukrainian territory, with satellite images like this taken in the last few weeks showing large camps of tanks and artillery pieces in the region
An unclassified intelligence document, obtained by The Washington Post, show satellite images of troop and equipment build up around the border with Ukraine.
Photos taken in June around Yelnya, near the northern border between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, showed empty land. By November 9, five Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) were in place, the photos showed.
In 2014, similar scenes were replicated along the Russian-Ukrainian border near Crimea before Russia seized the strategic port on the Black Sea.
Russia has denied such plans, and is accusing NATO countries of ‘provocations’ including military exercises near its borders.
Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden are due to speak on December 7, according to Russian reports.
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Anthony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, is seen meeting Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Stockholm on Thursday
Blinken warned Moscow of the ‘severe costs’ Russia would pay if it invaded Ukraine, urging his Russian counterpart on Thursday to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis.
‘I made very clear our deep concerns and our resolve to hold Russia responsible for its actions, including our commitment to work with European allies to impose severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine,’ Blinken told a news conference after the meeting.
‘It’s now on Russia to de-escalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup, returning forces to normal peacetime positions and refraining from further intimidation and attempts to destabilize Ukraine.’
Lavrov, speaking to reporters before his talks with Blinken, said Moscow was ready for dialogue with Kyiv.
‘We, as President Putin has stated, do not want any conflicts,’ he said.
Blinken, before the meeting, stated: ‘We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade.
‘We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide.
‘We must prepare for all contingencies.’