Russia denies 'near collision' with passenger plane
PR dla Zagranicy
Russia's defence ministry has denied that one of its military aircraft was close to colliding with a Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) plane apparently bound for Poznan on Friday.
Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told the TASS news agency that the military aircraft was 70 km off the course of the SAS plane.
His response came after Sweden's defence minister Peter Hultqvist claimed that that lives had been put at risk after the Russian plane turned off its transponders, allegedly in a bid to evade radar detection.
The SAS plane changed its course mid-flight, in a bid to avert risk.
Konashenkov has admitted that the Russian plane's transponders were switched off, but has argued that NATO aircraft do likewise.
''I want to particularly stress that the flights of NATO military planes in the international space on Russia’s borders – which have intensified more than threefold over the last months – are always conducted with disabled transponders,'' he said.
''But that does not mean that the Russian airspace control are not able to detect them,'' he added.
SAS has acknowledged that one of its planes was involved in the incident, but the airline did not reveal which exact flight.
Swedish and Danish media have reported that it was SK1755 from Copenhagen to Poznan.
Last week, Poland's defence minister said that ''for several days, there has been unprecedented Russian activity over the Baltic Sea,'' describing the situation as ''an ongoing test'' in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis.
Meanwhile, Poland sees the Russian violation of Swedish airspace as provocative but calls for a calm reaction, Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said ahead of meeting with his EU peers in Brussels.
“We shouldn’t exaggerate and turn incidents into a generalised strategic policy,” Schetyna told reporters.
“The Swedes reacted with Nordic cool,” he said. “We intend to do likewise.” (nh/an/jb)
Updated 1334 with comment from Polish Foreign Minister