IN A sure sign of how terse East-West relations have become, a Russian fighter has buzzed a NATO F-16 as it was buzzing a transport carrying Russia's defence minister.
The NATO fighter intercepted a Tu-154 carrying Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as it flew over the Baltic Sea - a region where Russia has made frequent and aggressive displays of strength in recent months - on Wednesday.
As the NATO plane flew a short distance from the Russian's wing, letting all aboard know it was there, a Russian fighter swooped in.
This was a fully armed Su-27 Flanker. It tilted its wings to display its weaponry, apparently as a warning to the NATO fighter.
The Russian military released video of the incident without a statement, but state-run mouthpiece Sputnik crowed about the standoff.
"The NATO aircraft attempted to get close to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu's plane over neutral Baltic waters but was chased away by the Su-27,” Sputnik reported.
A NATO spokesman told the BBC: "As the aircraft did not identify themselves or respond to air traffic control, NATO fighter jets scrambled to identify them, according to standard procedures. NATO has no information as to who was on board.”
Earlier this week, a Russian Flanker reportedly flew within 1.5m of a US surveillance jet, also over the Baltic. - Jamie Seidel