- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2021

A Russian fighter jet escorted a U.S. spy plane over the Pacific Ocean recently and kept the American aircraft from violating Russian airspace, according to Russian media.

Moscow’s state-run TASS news agency reported the incident Friday, though it did not give a specific date of the supposed escort. The news outlet cited a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry that claimed a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet was scrambled to escort a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft near the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Russian officials said the U.S. aircraft was “prevented from violating the Russian border” but did not provide detail on how close the American plane had gotten to Russian airspace.

Pentagon officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If true, the incident comes at a time of rising tension between Washington and Moscow.

President Biden on Thursday imposed dozens of fresh sanctions on Russia over its interference in the 2020 presidential election and a recent massive cyberattack against the U.S. government and private industry. The U.S. also has warned Russia to respect Ukrainian sovereignty amid a buildup of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine. 

“Now is the time to de-escalate,” Mr. Biden said Thursday as he tried to cool tensions. “We want a stable and predictable, predictable relationship.”

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