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Swiss Say Jets Carried Out Routine Check On Russian Government Plane

  • RFE/RL

Switzerland has replied to Moscow’s demands for an explanation about why Swiss fighter jets flew alongside a Russian government airliner heading to Peru by saying on November 19 that the jets were making a routine check of the plane’s identity.

The Swiss Defense Ministry said that two of its fighter jets had flown alongside the Russian plane for seven minutes over Swiss territory on November 18.

It said such checks are conducted around 400 times a year to double-check the identity of planes belonging to foreign governments.

Russia’s embassy in Switzerland said in a tweet earlier on November 19 that "[We] have expressed surprise and asked for explanations from Switzerland” over the incident.

The embassy sent the Swiss government a letter on November 19 emphasizing that the flight plan of the plane, which was carrying part of a Russian delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, had been submitted "well in advance."

The plane’s flight path was not affected by the incident, and it continued on to a refueling stop in Lisbon, Portugal.

At the time of the incident, the pilot of the Russian plane told the passengers not to be alarmed by the escort, which he said was a normal practice that had been agreed in advance.

In Lisbon, however, the aircraft suffered a mechanical failure, forcing Russia to send another plane with spare parts to take the delegation and journalists covering the summit on to Lima.

Technicians will repair the stricken aircraft and it will return to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was flying to Lima in a separate aircraft from Sochi, was not affected by the breakdown.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, Interfax, and RIA Novosti
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