The incident might have drawn the US and NATO instantly into the battle between Moscow and Kiev, Washington Publish says
Russia and NATO have been only a step away from a possible all-out conflict final 12 months after a Russian fighter jet virtually shot down a British surveillance plane, the Washington Publish claimed on Sunday, citing a brand new doc from a trove lately leaked from the Pentagon.
The incident, which occurred in late September 2022 was allegedly way more critical than London had beforehand admitted, the newspaper reported. Again in October 2022, Britain’s Secretary of Defence Ben Wallace instructed the parliament concerning the incident, including that Moscow blamed it on a technical malfunction and London accepted this rationalization.
The doc, seen by WaPo, describes it as a “near-shoot down of UK RJ” – a reference to the ‘River Joint’ moniker widespread for the RC-135 reconnaissance plane used to gather radio transmissions and digital messages. The UK mentioned in October that the aircraft had been intercepted by two Russian Su-27 fighters over the Black Sea, with one among them “releasing a missile” close to the British aircraft.
Based on WaPo, the incident might have probably triggered Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, presumably resulting in a direct involvement of NATO forces within the battle in Ukraine, or perhaps a direct battle between Moscow and the army bloc.
Neither has the US or the UK nor has Russia commented on the doc’s contents, WaPo mentioned. The identical paper additionally advised that the US took a extra cautious method in direction of reconnaissance missions within the Black Sea area and particularly instructed its Air Drive to avoid the Crimean Peninsula, the newspaper reported.
A map contained within the doc reveals a number of strains drawn over sections of the Black Sea to mark the areas the place American surveillance plane can and can’t fly, WaPo reported. Considered one of them goes about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Crimea – a distance marking the territorial waters of a nation underneath worldwide regulation.
One other one drawn about 50 nautical miles from the shore is named “SECDEF Directed Standoff.” Based on the US media outlet, this line would possibly point out that US Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin might need ordered the US Air Drive to maintain their plane away from the peninsula.
In contrast to France and the UK, which made crewed surveillance flights over the Black Sea, the US relied on drones, together with the RQ-4 World Hawk, the RQ-170 Sentinel, and the MQ-9 Reaper, the doc mentioned, including that a number of such unmanned flights happen each month.
In March, the Pentagon accused Russian pilots of reckless flying and claimed that one of many Russian jets had clipped the propeller of a US MQ-9 Reaper drone, inflicting it to go down. Russia denied hitting the drone or utilizing weapons towards it. It additionally mentioned the US plane was flying with its transponder switched off in a no-go zone declared by the Russian army.
A video allegedly shot by the drone solely confirmed a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet buzzing over it and allegedly ejecting gasoline within the course of. Based on CNN, the Pentagon has additional rerouted its surveillance drone flights over the Black Sea within the wake of the incident.