Turkey scrambles jets after Russian plane again flies near coast

ISTANBUL Fri Mar 7, 2014 10:32am EST

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Turkish Air Force scrambled six F-16 fighter jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew parallel along its Black Sea coast, the military said on Friday, amid increased tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

The incident, the second of its kind reported this week, occurred on Thursday. The Russian plane remained in international airspace, according to a statement on the website of the military General Staff.

Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, which juts into the north of the Black Sea, is at the center of the current standoff between Russia and Ukraine's new pro-Western government. NATO member Turkey forms the southern coastline of the Black Sea.

On Friday, a U.S. navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Tuxton, passed through Turkey's Bosphorus straits bisecting Istanbul on its way to the Black Sea in what the U.S. military described as a "routine" deployment scheduled well before the Ukraine crisis.

(Reporting by Seda Sezer, writing by Gareth Jones)

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