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British defense chief discloses talk with Shoigu over Black Sea air incident

Sergey Shoigu noted that the patrol completed and the aircraft returned to base

LONDON, October 20. /TASS/. UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace discussed with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu on Thursday a recent air incident over the Black Sea when a Russian Su-27 fighter allegedly fired a missile close to a British RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft performing a flight in international airspace as claimed by London.

"On September 29, an unarmed RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint, a civilian-style aircraft, on routine patrol over the Black Sea was interacted with by two Russian armed Su-27 fighter aircraft. It is not unusual for aircraft to be shadowed and this day was no different. During that interaction, however, it transpired that one of the Su-27 aircraft released a missile in the vicinity of the RAF Rivet Joint beyond visual range," the UK defense chief claimed.

"The total time of the interaction between the Russian aircraft and the Rivet Joint was approximately 90 minutes. The patrol completed and the aircraft returned to base," he stated.

The UK defense chief said that he had discussed the air incident directly with his Russian counterpart Shoigu.

"In light of this potentially dangerous engagement, I have communicated my concerns directly to my Russian counterpart, Defense Minister (Sergey) Shoigu, and the chief of defense staff [Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov] in Moscow," Wallace said.

"In my letter I made clear the aircraft was unarmed, in international airspace, and following a pre-notified flight path," he claimed.

The British defense chief said that UK patrols over the Black Sea were suspended until a response from the Russian side was received on October 10 and now flights have resumed and are escorted by fighter aircraft.

The British defense chief further claimed that a check carried out by the Russian authorities showed that the Su-27 fighter jet had fired the missile by mistake.

Wallace said he believed that the incident could have led to potentially dangerous consequences but added that the UK did not consider this as "a deliberate escalation."

For his part, Labor's shadow defense minister Luke Pollard said that the incident was a "serious reminder about the importance of avoiding escalation and miscalculation while continuing the UK's united support for Ukraine."

The Russian side has not yet commented on the Black Sea air incident.