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Russia says US spy planes threaten civil aviation over Black Sea

US President Joe Biden (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they arrive for a US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva on June 16, 2021. (Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
December 06, 2021

Russia said it would protest officially to the U.S. about an incident over the Black Sea on Saturday, when civilian aircraft had to divert from their routes because of a U.S. spy plane.

“Increased U.S. and NATO warplanes activity near Russian borders creates risks of dangerous incidents for civilian aviation,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Facebook page on Sunday. “If this time a catastrophe over the Black sea was avoided, this doesn’t mean U.S. and NATO could risk people’s lives in the future without punishment.”

According to Russia’s civil aviation agency, two passenger planes had to divert and change altitude because a NATO surveillance plane crossed their routes and ignored signals from Russian air safety authorities. One flight was Aeroflot from Tel Aviv to Moscow and the other was a Maltese aircraft flying from the Black Sea resort of Sochi to North Macedonia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden plan to hold a video call on Tuesday, after weeks of escalating tension over the Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine and NATO military activities around the Black Sea. While U.S. intelligence had concluded the Kremlin was planning an offensive against Ukraine as soon as next year involving an estimated 175,000 personnel, Russia warned the West not to cross the Kremlin’s security “red line” and avoid expansion of western military infrastructure into Ukraine.

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