PARIS, October 20. /TASS/. Russian ambassador to France has been summoned to the French Foreign Ministry over a Monday incident with a plane carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation, French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Roman Nadal said on Tuesday.
Nadal said Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov had been received by the ministry’s secretary general. "It was stressed that French warplanes has nothing to do with the air incident with the Russian plane," he said, adding that the French Foreign Ministry "expressed regret" that the French ambassador to Moscow had been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry due to erroneous data.
On Monday, official Paris said it regretted that its ambassador had been summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with an incident with a plane carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation. Reuters has quoted the ministry’s statement as saying "No French army aircraft was involved in the incident with the official Russian aircraft that the Russian Foreign Ministry mentioned". "We regret therefore that the French ambassador to Moscow was summoned," it said.
Later in the day, Switzerland confirmed that its F/A-18 fighter closely approached on Monday a Russian airliner in Swiss airspace in the vicinity of the city of Biel, a representative of the Swiss Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) said. The airlines was carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation led by lower house speaker Sergey Naryshkin who were bound for Geneva to take part in a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
"The Swiss fighter plane F/A-18 approached a Russian plane in Swiss airspace over the city of Biel within the framework of a standard procedure of police control in the air. It happened at 10:22, local time (11:22, Moscow time," DDPS spokesman Peter Minder said on Monday.
"It was a standard procedure adopted in Switzerland. There is nothing unusual in this," he said, adding that the Swiss military pilot only wanted to identify the plane. According to him, Switzerland conducts about 100 similar checks per year on average.
Later on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry apologized to the French side for summoning the ambassador. "We have received information from the crew members of the plane that carried the Russian parliamentary delegation led by Mr. Naryshkin to Switzerland to take part in the forum that the aircraft had been dangerously approached by a plane of the French Air Force. We got in touch with the embassy, the French ambassador to Russia was summoned to the Foreign Ministry," Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova told the Rossiya-1 television channel. After verifying the information, the French side said that the Russian aircraft had been approached not by a plane of the French Air Force but by a Swiss Air Force fighter jet.
"After that apologies were extended to the French side through diplomatic channels, and the Russian Foreign Ministry began working with the Swiss side… We are waiting for a formal reply from the Swiss side," Zakharova said.