A UK Royal Air Force spy plane violated Russian airspace in the Barents Sea near Murmansk, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.
A MiG-31 interceptor was dispatched to escort the RC-135 surveillance jet from the vicinity of Cape Svyatoy Nos, near the major bases of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet.
The MiG-31BM interceptor on duty with the border air patrol identified the aircraft and compelled it to stop its violation of Russian airspace, the military said in a statement. Moscow identified the location of the incident as Svyatoy Nos, a cape on the Kola Peninsula, east of Murmansk in western Russia.
While the Russian Defense Ministry offered no further details about the incident as of Monday evening local time, FlightRadar showed a Royal Air Force RC-135 flying off the coast of Murmansk earlier. The RAF spy plane with the designation RRR7255 made several loops before heading for the entrance to the White Sea, violating Russian airspace in the process.
The plane is seen currently flying back to the RAF base in Waddington, Lincolnshire, the hub of the RAF Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) command.
Monday’s incident was the first incursion of NATO aircraft into Russian territory since the conflict in Ukraine escalated in February. Earlier that month, Moscow said that a US submarine was spotted and chased off from Russian waters near the Kuril Islands in the northern Pacific. The Pentagon denied all allegations.
This is the second British trespass into Russian territory since June 2021, when Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender sailed off the coast of Crimea. The most recent known incident in the Barents Sea was in July 2021, when three nuclear-capable US B-52 bombers approached Russian airspace, but were escorted away before they could trespass.
According to Russian officials, the number of reconnaissance NATO flights near the state border grew by more than 30% in 2021.