Russian fighters drive NATO warplane away from defense chief's plane

A Nato F-18 warplane is viewed from the window of a passenger plane carrying Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

A Nato F-18 warplane is viewed from the window of a passenger plane carrying Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets convoying a plane with the Russian defense minister on board chased away a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation F-18, which tried to shadow it over the Baltic Sea.

Earlier, the news agency said that those accompanying Shoigu Su-27 prevented the rapprochement of the EF-18 and the plane of the head of the Ministry of Defense, who was on his way back to Moscow from a visit to Kaliningrad. The Russian jet carrying Shoigu is not the Tu-154 with registration RA-85686 we observed on previous Russia's MOD trips, but a Tu-204, based on the type of winglet exposed in the video.

Russian media reported the minister's aircraft was being escorted by two navy Su-27 jet fighters at the time.

A similar incident occurred in 2017, when a Polish F-16 fighter approached Shoigu's plane over the Baltic Sea and a Russian jet pushed it away. The workhorse of the Russian Air Force spawned an entire family of military aircraft used throughout the world.

In Kaliningrad, Shoigu attended a stone-laying ceremony for a future branch of the Nakhimov Naval Academy and the Seaborne Assault competition at the Khmelevka proving ground.

Such incidents have added tension to Russia's relationship with the West, which has been severely strained by Moscow's takeover of Crimea, its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and its alleged meddling in the US election in 2016.

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