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Russian fighter jet 'released a missile' near unarmed British surveillance plane, U.K. defense secretary says

“In light of this potentially dangerous engagement,” Ben Wallace said, he “communicated my concerns directly with Russian counterpart.”
Su-27 jet fighters fly during a recruiting event in Rostov-on-Don, Russia
Su-27 fighters fly during a recruiting event in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, in September 2019.Sergey Pivovarov / Sputnik via AP file

LONDON — A Russian fighter jet “released a missile” in the vicinity of an unarmed British surveillance plane, the U.K.’s defense minister said Thursday. 

Ben Wallace told lawmakers in the Houses of Parliament that the incident occurred in “international airspace over the Black Sea” on Sept. 29.

An “unarmed RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint” plane was “interacted with by two Russian armed SU-27 fighter aircraft,” one of which “released a missile in the vicinity of the RAF Rivet Joint beyond visual range.”

The British plane completed its patrol and returned to base, he said. 

“In light of this potentially dangerous engagement,” Wallace said he “communicated my concerns directly with Russian counterpart,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s chief of defense staff. 

“In my letter, I made clear that the aircraft was unarmed, in international airspace and following a pre-notified flightpath,” he said.

He added that Russia’s Ministry of Defense had replied “that they had conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the incident and stated it was a technical malfunction of the SU-27 fighter.”

NBC News has reached out the Russian defense ministry for comment.    

Wallace also urged Iran to “desist” from supplying Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles dubbed “kamikaze” drones, which Moscow has been using to attack Ukraine. Iran has denied supplying Russia with drones.

Likening their use to Nazi Germany’s bombings of the U.K. during World War II, Wallace told the House of Commons that lawmakers “will not have missed the similarity between the V-1 rockets and the use of this.”

“I would urge the Iranian government to understand that surely supplying Russia to indiscriminately kill civilians, women and children, babies in prams, is not an activity that Iran wants to be associated with,” he said. 

“And I would urge them to desist as soon as possible,” he added. “And we are not convinced by the denials from the Iranian Government at all that this is not being supplied by them.”

Drones carrying explosives terrorized Kyiv this week as the Kremlin’s forces unleashed a deadly barrage against civilian and infrastructure targets across the country.

Both Washington and Kyiv have accused Tehran of supplying the drones to Moscow to be used in Ukraine, accusations Iran has denied

“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers news published on the delivery of drones to Russia for use in the Ukraine war as baseless and does not confirm it,” its Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.