The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday night that Russian Air Force fighters had arrested and abducted US and French fighters flying over the country’s Black Sea border.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that “three Su-27 fighter jets have taken off to identify air targets and avoid crossing the Russian Federation’s borders.”
According to the ministry, Russian warplanes intercepted two French Air Force Mirage 2000s and a Rafale fighter jet and a KC-135 aircraft, as well as two US spy planes, a CL-600 and an RC-135 aircraft. All five planes returned halfway, and then Russian warplanes returned to their base, the ministry statement said.
Earlier in the day, Moscow had announced that it had seized three French planes over the Black Sea.
In recent weeks, relations between Russia and the West have been strained, with Moscow accusing it of holding a troop meeting near the Ukrainian border for a military operation.
At a virtual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden threatened Russia with “severe” sanctions if it attacked Ukraine.
Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky on Thursday night, saying the United States supports Ukraine’s sovereignty. On Wednesday, France warned Moscow that there would be massive “strategic consequences” of a possible attack on Ukraine.
Moscow denies any war motives and accuses NATO members of further provocations, including military exercises near Russia’s Black Sea border.