Collision of Military, Passenger Jets Averted, Russia Dismisses Swedish Accusations
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist announced on Saturday that a Russian military plane, which had turned off its transponder, almost collided with a passenger jet over southern Sweden.
The chief of the Swedish air force Maj. Gen. Micael Byden said that the aircraft's transponder was switched off which made the plane invisible to commercial radars.
Swedish fighter jets were sent up and identified the military aircraft as a Russian intelligence plane.
Russian Defence Ministry Spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov dismissed Swedish accusations on Sunday, saying that the military aircraft was operating in accordance with the international airspace rules and was flying at a safe distance from the routes of civilian jets.
Konashenkov stated that there were no prerequisites for an accident between the two planes.
He pointed to the increased number of flights of NATO warplanes near Russian borders, suggesting that a NATO reconnaissance plane was flying between the Russian jet and the passenger aircraft.
Konashenkov hurled back, saying that NATO jets also flew in international air space with their transponders switched off.
Both Russia and NATO have increased their military presence in the skies above the Baltic Sea recently.
Former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called for an agreement to be reached that all military planes operating above the Baltic Sea should have their transponders switched on, USA Today reports.
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