Russia says French jet flew dangerously close to official plane, Paris blames Swiss

19th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russia's foreign ministry accused a French military plane on Monday of approaching "dangerously close" to a passenger jet carrying an official parliamentary delegation as it flew through French airspace.

Paris, however, quickly dismissed the allegation and said that the jet involved in the incident was actually Swiss.

The ministry in Moscow said in a statement that it had summoned France's ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert to "give an explanation" of the incident.

"A plane of the French airforce flew dangerously close to a jet with a Russian parliamentary delegation headed by the Russian State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin," the statement said, adding the officials were travelling to a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva.

"The ambassador was made aware of Russia's deep concern over what happened," it said, adding that "actions like these by Paris undermine the possibility of using France as a place for multilateral meetings and talks."

France's foreign ministry rebuffed the Russian claim, saying that "it was a Swiss plane, an F18, and no French military plane is involved."

Swiss authorities did not immediately give a reaction to the alleged incident.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova later said in televised comments that Moscow is waiting for an explanation from both the French and Swiss authorities over the incident.

"We have to work out what happened and why it was done," Zakharova said.

Naryshkin's spokeswoman Yevgenia Chugunova told AFP that the warplane flew so close that members of the delegation could take a picture.

"I can confirm that this incident involving a French military plane happened this morning," she said. "We saw it very close."

Naryshkin, who is on both the EU and US blacklists for publicly supporting the deployment of Russian forces to Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, told Russian agencies he is aware of what happened although he did not see the warplane himself.

Another member of the delegation, Sergei Gavrilov, told TASS news agency that the approach took place "at the altitude of 3,700 metres (12,100 feet) above the Swiss border" and called it an "unfriendly act by NATO".

© 2015 AFP

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