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Russian jet flew 'metres' from Swedish plane

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Russian jet flew 'metres' from Swedish plane
The Russian Jet. Photo: Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment
14:16 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Swedish intelligence officials have released a picture of a Russian jet flying closely beside a Swedish intelligence plane, in what they describe as "a growing trend" in international airspace.
The photo comes from FRA, a Swedish agency that supplies intelligence to the government, and shows a Russian SU27 fighter aircraft.
 
In a statement, the FRA said that Russia had become "much more aggressive" in recent months and confirmed that a Russian fighter jet had flown at an "unusually provocative" distance from a Swedish jet.
 
Speaking with The Local, the FRA refused to get into specifics about the picture.
 
"We cannot comment on when it happened, nor where, but we can say that it shows an example of behaviour we weren't used to before," said Communications Manager Anni Bölenius.
 
"This picture is just one example, but there have been enough to confirm that there is a trend that differs from what we've seen historically."
 
The Signal Intelligence flights are carried out by the FRA mainly to protect Swedish territory and to support the Swedish Armed Forces. 
 
"All our signal intelligence activities are related to national security of foreign affairs, and it's no secret that we're seeing many countries with planes in international airspace doing the same thing," Bölenius added.
 
Even though the flight appears to show the Russian plane just metres away, neither the Armed Forces nor the FRA consider the proximity to represent any "acute threat of imminent danger", she said. 
 
When asked why the FRA and Armed Forces decided to release the picture now and not during one of the similar incidents before, Bölenius said that it was timed to coincide with Sweden's current discussions about national security.
 
"We saw it as a chance to communicate, we are trying to be as open as we can about it," she told The Local. 
 
The news follows revelations in September that two Russian SU24 fighter-bombers had been detected flying over Swedish airspace to the south of Öland. The planes were one kilometre inside Swedish territory for about 30 seconds.
 
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described the flights as "the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians during my years as foreign minister".

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