This is the moment a Russian fighter jet appears to intercept a U.S spy plane over the Pacific Ocean as tensions between the two countries mount over increasing Russian military presence on the Ukrainian border.
The incident occurred over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Kamchatka peninsula in far eastern Russia on Saturday (10th April).
The Russian National Defence Control Centre (NDCC) reported that it identified the US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft over the pacific.
They scrambled a Mig-31 fighter jet and escorted the US RC-135 away from the Russian mainland.
The NDCC added: “The operation was carried out in strict accordance with international law and the violation of Russia’s airspace by the spy plane was averted”.
The incident comes as tensions rise between the USA and Russia as the number of Russian troops stationed on the Ukrainian border near the Donbas region has reached levels not seen since Russia annexed Crimea in February 2014.
The Donbas region, an industrial heartland, is located on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia and about a quarter of the population is reported to be ethnically Russian.
Kremlin-backed separatists in Donbas have been fighting the Ukrainian military since 2014 and tensions have recently been increasing.
On April 8th Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the Donbas region where skirmish between Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian military regularly result in fatalities.
On Sunday (11th April), the Ukrainian government reported that a soldier stationed near the Russian border had been killed by Russian backed separatists in an artillery bombardment.
This year alone the Kyiv government claims that 27 of their soldiers have been killed by Russian separatists this is almost half the number that were killed in all of 2020.
Sky News reported that over the weekend Russian troops had been gathering in the Russian city of Voronezh which is located near the Ukrainian border.
The Russian military has established a large military base on the outskirts of the City which has resulted in western governments questioning whether the Kremlin is planning to launch an invasion.
The Kremlin remains adamant that it is not interested in launching an invasion, but it is going to do everything it can to protect the Russian speaking minority that calls the Donbas region home.
Western leaders are on high alert, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “wind down” the military build-up on the Ukrainian border.
Whilst Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, tweeted: ” The United Kingdom and the United State firmly oppose Russia’s campaign to destabilise Ukraine.”
He added that Russia must immediately de-escalate the situation and live up to its intentional commitments.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, warned on Sunday (11th April) that Russia will be faced with severe consequences if it acts aggressively towards Ukraine.
He added that US President Joe Biden: ” Has been very clear about this. If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences,”
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s Press Secretary, has defended the troop movements stating that what Russia does with its army within its own borders is of nobody else’s concern.