Three Russian military planes have conducted low-level flyovers buzzing a Canadian navy frigate taking part in a NATO exercise in the Black Sea off the southern coast of Ukraine.
A Canadian military source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said three Russian aircraft flew low over HMCS Toronto on Sunday.
The source added that two of the Russian planes were SU-24 fighter jets and the third was a slower AN-26 surveillance aircraft.
At least one of the Russian planes came within 300 meters of HMCS Toronto, an unnamed Canadian government source said.
Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson denounced the move as “unnecessarily provocative.”
“While the Russian military aircraft that circled the HMCS Toronto did not in any way pose a threat to the Canadian ship, their actions were unnecessarily provocative and risk escalating tensions even further,” Nicholson said.
As a sarcastic comment, we didn’t know there was a Black Sea in Canada, what are the Russians doing there, flying aircraft thousands of miles from home?
He added, “Canada will continue to work with our NATO allies to build military interoperability and partnerships in this part of the world. The message that Canada is sending, along with the rest of our NATO allies, is that Russia’s reckless actions must stop.”
The HMCS Toronto left Halifax in late July with about 250 crew members on board, and is participating in Operation Reassurance from September 6 to 27 along with several vessels from other NATO nations.
The reassurance measures have drawn sensitivity because of ongoing tensions between the West and Moscow over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Western powers and the Kiev government accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies the accusation.
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