Russia threatened to shoot down French aircraft over Black Sea

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French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu has revealed that Russia issued threats to shoot down French aircraft conducting patrols over the Black Sea.  

Speaking on the radio channel RTL on February 22, 2024, Lecornu expressed the gravity of the situation, highlighting Russia’s provocative actions. 

“Russia has attempted to disrupt several of our patrols,” the minister said. “A month ago, to give you a very concrete example, a Russian air traffic control system threatened to shoot down French planes in the Black Sea while we were in a free international zone where we were patrolling.”  

The French General Staff of the Armed Forces further detailed the situation during a press briefing at the Ministry of the Armed Forces. 

“This interaction took place in mid-November [of 2023],” explained Colonel Pierre Gaudillère, spokesperson for the General Staff of the Armed Forces, as quoted by BFM TV. “It was an AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System – ed. note] on a situation assessment mission in international waters above the Black Sea.” 

“Russia is pushing the limits of aggression” 

Lecornu described Moscow’s recent posture as “particularly aggressive,” reminiscent of the behavior of the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. “Russia is pushing the limits of aggression,” he concluded. 

This is not the first time a NATO aircraft has been threatened by Russian forces while on a mission in the region since the invasion of Ukraine began. 

On September 29, 2022, a Russian Su-27 fighter fired a missile near a British Royal Air Force Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint observation aircraft. While it was initially accepted that the near catastrophe was due to a “technical malfunction,” later evidence suggested that two missiles were fired and that the Russian pilot was trying to bring down the British aircraft. 

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