Aug 3 A U.S. reconnaissance plane crossed into
Swedish airspace last month as it sought to avoid being
intercepted by Russian fighters, the New York Times reported on
Sunday, citing U.S. military officials.
The episode occurred on July 18 when Russian aircraft
approached an Air Force RC-135 electronic surveillance plane as
it was flying in what U.S. officials said was international
airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Times said.
"The aircraft commander, acting in a professional and safe
manner, maneuvered the aircraft to avoid a possible encounter by
Russian aircraft," the United States European Command said in a
statement, according to the Times.
Ties between the United States and Russia have plunged to
their lowest level since the end of the Cold War over the crisis
in Ukraine, which Washington accuses Moscow of fanning with
weapons and support for rebels fighting the Kiev government.
The United States has expanded its intelligence-gathering in
the region, including reconnaissance missions by RC-135
aircraft, the Times said.
It said that according to Swedish news media, the episode
last month occurred as the RC-135 aircraft was flying near
Kaliningrad, a heavily militarized Russian enclave between
Poland and Lithuania that includes a major port for the Russian
After being approached by Russian aircraft, the RC-135 pilot
sought to avoid the encounter by maneuvering his aircraft into
Swedish airspace, flying over Gotland Island.
Sweden is not a member of NATO, and the European Command
said in its statement that the RC-135 had been directed toward
Swedish territory "incorrectly by U.S. personnel," the Times
The plane left Swedish airspace after Swedish air traffic
controllers informed the aircraft of the mistake, the newspaper
(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Eric Walsh)