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MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. The statement from spokesman of the Swiss Armed Forces, where he claimed it was a routine procedure that fighters escort top-officials planes, is an excuse, which does not satisfy the Russian side, First Deputy head of the Federation Council’s (parliament’s upper house) committee on defense and security Franz Klintsevich said on Sunday.
"The statement of Swiss army spokesman Daniel Reist is just an excuse, which cannot satisfy us," he said. "That was not just escort of a civil plane, which may be acceptable, but rather an unfriendly demonstration," which looked very much like intimidation.
Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets escorted a plane of Russia’s Rossiya Special Flight Group as part of a routine procedure required for defense of Switzerland’s air space, Daniel Reist, a Swiss army spokesman, said on Saturday commenting on the incident when on November 18 Swiss fighter jets flew near the Russian plane bound for Peru.
"It often happens that F/A-18 escort government airliners when they fly through the Swiss air space within our work to control the skies," Reist told the Swiss Telegraphic Agency.
The control is carried out rather often, notwithstanding which country the plane belongs to. In particular, Switzerland controls the aircraft which have officially notified about their flights. It is required for identification of their registration numbers, he said. Annually, the Swiss Air Force carries out from 300 to 400 checks with regard to foreign aircraft.
On November 18, a plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Group headed to Peru’s capital city for the APEC summit. Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets intercepted the aircraft and escorted it to the border with France. Among the passengers on board the Ilyushin Il-96-300 were members of President Vladimir Putin’s delegation and reporters.
A year earlier, a similar incident was with plane, on board which was the then speaker of the Russian parliament’s lower house Sergei Naryshkin, who headed for the InterParliamentary Union’s assembly in Geneva.
The Russian senator said the approach of the Swiss aircraft to the Russian top-officials plane could threaten security of the persons on board. "We are expecting response from Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to the note from the Russian embassy in Switzerland with explanation of the incident’s reasons," he said. "We need guarantees nothing of the kind happens again."
Meanwhile, Russia’s embassy to Switzerland has not received explanations from the country’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) over the note Russia had sent earlier, expressing bewilderment over the approach of the Swiss Air Force’s fighters to the plane of the Rossiya Special Flight Group.
The Rossiya Special Flight Group is engaged in aviation services for Russian top officials, including the president and prime minister, as well as members of their delegations during official visits abroad or working trips across Russia.