Russia Says Warplane Eyeing U.S. Jet in Syria Not Meant to Scare

  • Fighter jet flying in Syria approached U.S. plane, Russia says
  • Russia says broad coalition needed to fight against terrorism

Russia said its warplane flying bombing raids in Syria came close to a U.S jet in the area, highlighting the risks of its military campaign as the former Cold War foes remain at odds over how to coordinate their operations in the Middle Eastern country.

A Russian Su-30 fighter jet flew within about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to 3 kilometers of a U.S. warplane on Oct. 10 during a mission in Aleppo Province, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday. The intention was to identify the plane and “not scare anyone,” with Russian and U.S. officials planning to discuss the incident, it said in the statement.

While Russia’s ready to talk about its campaign with “maps in hand,” the U.S. only wants to hold technical discussions to prevent clashes between the nations’ air forces conducting bombing operations over Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told lawmakers in Moscow on Wednesday. The Defense Ministry said it plans to discuss the close call between the warplanes by video link with the Pentagon.

Russia is sounding alarms about the lack of coordination with the U.S. while intensifying its air strikes in Syria. Russian jets conducted 41 sorties and hit 40 targets in the past 24 hours, destroying what it said were Islamic State training camps in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo as well as ammunition depots in Hama and Latakia, according to the Defense Ministry.

Ukraine, Syria

Russia’s relations with the U.S. and Europe -- already at their worst since the fall of the Berlin Wall over the separatist conflict in Ukraine -- have been strained further over President Vladimir Putin’s decision last month to begin airstrikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad against Islamic State and other militants. Putin accused some states on Tuesday of having “oatmeal in their heads” for failing to understand that Russia’s military campaign aims to defeat terrorism.

The European Union demanded on Monday that Russia stop targeting moderate groups opposed to Assad. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned that Russia’s actions “will have consequences” and the bombing “will only inflame” Syria’s four-year civil war.

Putin’s Offer

The U.S. declined Putin’s offer to dispatch a delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Washington to explain Russia’s operations in Syria, and has no plans to send a team to Russia, Lavrov said. A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday expressed “regret” over the American rejection.

Russia’s winning growing global support as a “key player” in world affairs, while attempts by the U.S. and its allies to block the emergence of a more just world order are sowing chaos, Lavrov told lawmakers. Unilateral efforts to fight international terrorism won’t achieve results and a broad coalition is needed to counter what many countries recognized as a fundamental threat at the United Nations general assembly last month, he said.

The U.S. seeks to maintain sole leadership through its foreign policy and meets growing resistance and “sometimes outright rejection” by many states, while Russia isn’t imposing anything on anyone, Lavrov said.

Though Russia got a “cool” reaction to its proposal for a draft UN resolution on forming a coalition against terrorism, progress in settling the crisis in Ukraine “will remove artificial obstacles in the way of finding common answers to real challenges for all countries,” Lavrov said.

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