On October 20th, British Defence Secretary revealed that a dangerous incident took place in international airspace over the Black Sea. A Russian fighter jet released a missile in the vicinity of a British aircraft in international airspace.
On September 29, an unarmed RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft was patrolling over the area but was “interacted with” by two Russian Su-27s, one of which “released a missile in the vicinity of the RAF Rivet Joint beyond visual range”. The total time of the interaction between the Russian aircraft and the Rivet Joint was approximately 90 minutes and once the patrol was completed, the aircraft returned to base.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace discussed the incident with Russian Defense Minister Shoigu and got a response that there was a technical malfunction.
“In light of this potentially dangerous engagement, I have communicated my concerns directly to my Russian counterpart, Defence Minister [Sergei] Shoigu, and the chief of defence staff in Moscow. The reply by the Russian minister of defence on October 10 stated they have conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the incident and stated it was a technical malfunction of the Su-27 fighter. They also acknowledge that the incident took place in international airspace.” – he said.
Wallace welcomed Russia’s acknowledgement the incident took place in international airspace. He added that the UK has conducted regular sorties with the RAF Rivet Joint in international airspace over the Black Sea since 2019 and we will continue to do so.
“We don’t consider this a deliberate escalation by the Russians, our analysis would concur it was a malfunction”, Wallace claimed.
This statement by the Minister of Defense demonstrates that the British professional military are not looking for escalation in the relations with their Russian counterparts, unlike the London political establishment. Interestingly, all the major British media, with the exception of Mirror, excluded exactly this quote from the speech of the Minister of Defense of the United Kingdom from their articles about this incident.