Russian Military Accused of Aerial Intimidation

Multiple reports of close calls with Swedish aircraft raise questions.

Russian Intimidation

Russian Intimidation

A Russian military airplane, identified as an intelligence airplane, came close to a Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) commercial passenger jet traveling from Denmark to Sweden on Friday, CNN and several other news outlets have reported. While the incident occurred in international airspace, reports claim that the Swedish Air Force Chief, Maj. Gen. Micael Byden, said the military aircraft's transponder had been turned off and Swedish fighter jets were deployed to identify it.

The Norwegian communications manager for SAS, Knut Morten Johansen, said that the pilots were not forced to take evasive action and initial reports of danger were unsubstantiated. The Russian news agency TASS reported that a spokesman of Russian Defense Ministry Major General Igor Konashenkov said, "The flight was being made strictly in compliance with international airspace rules, not violating borders of other countries and at a safe distance from traffic routes of civilian aircraft."

But this is not the first time in recent history that Swedish aircraft have come up close and personal with Russian military airplanes, and the tension has been described as similar to that of the Cold War. In September, two Russian airplanes entered Swedish airspace near the island of Öland, on the east coast of Sweden, Swedish Radio said. And in October, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet came within about 30 feet of a Swedish military intelligence airplane, according to the Swedish authority for signals intelligence (FRA), which released the attached image taken from the Swedish airplane during that flight.

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