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Switzerland confirms its military plane approached Russian aircraft

October 19, 2015, 19:10 UTC+3

The Swiss military pilot only wanted to identify the plane

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A Boeing F/A-18 (archive)

A Boeing F/A-18 (archive)

© AP Photo/Sang Tan

GENEVA, October 19. /TASS/. Switzerland has confirmed that its F/A-18 fighter has 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 Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) said.

"The Swiss  F/A-18  fighter plane 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," he said. "There is nothing unusual in this."

Answering a TASS question whether the incident was dangerous, he said "no." Minder also said that the Swiss military pilot only wanted to identify the plane. According to him, Switzerland conducts about 100 similar checks per year on average.

He said that the department "does not intend to publish any communiques on the subject."

Earlier on Monday, French Ambassador to Russia Jean-Maurice Ripert was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry to give explanations over the dangerous proximity of a French Air Force fighter to a Russian airliner carrying to Switzerland a Russian parliamentary delegation led by speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament Sergey Naryshkin, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.

"The Russian side expressed its deep concern to the ambassador over the incident. It emphasised that such actions by Paris are undermining France’s credibility as the venue for multilateral meetings and negotiations," the ministry said.

However, the French Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that no French aircraft was involved in any incident with a Russian plane in French airspace, Reuters reported. A French army source said no French warplanes were involved in any incident with a Russian plane in the French airspace.

After Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador, the French Foreign Ministry said, without giving any details, that the aircraft involved in the incident was Swiss, the agency said. The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that a Swiss warplane F-18 was involved in the incident. "It's a Swiss aircraft," a French Foreign Ministry official said.

A spokesman for Geneva airport, Bernard Stampfli, said he had no information on the alleged incident, but that he was making inquiries, Reuters reported.

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