December 18, 2015 / 7:04 AM / 2 years ago

Russia and Britain discuss avoiding airspace, naval 'incidents'

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Defense Ministry said late on Thursday that senior British military officials had met with their Russian counterparts in Moscow to discuss how best to avoid incidents between the two countries’ armed forces at sea and in the air.

A Russian SU-33 naval fighter plane flies during a drill at the Nitka training complex in the village of Novofedorovka, west of the Crimean city of Simferopol, August 27, 2015. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov

Britain has complained of increasingly having to scramble fighter jets to see off Russian bombers flying close to its airspace in episodes which at times have disrupted commercial flights. Russian warships which have sailed close to British territorial waters have also needed escorting away.

“The question of how to establish rapid communication channels between the relevant Russian and British military forces to avoid incidents on the open sea and in the air was discussed,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Britain had to scramble Typhoon fighters from Scotland to intercept two Russian Tu-160 bombers near British airspace over the Atlantic Ocean as recently as Nov. 20.

The Russian Defense Ministry described the meeting, which included Lieutenant-General Igor Makushev and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, as constructive in tone.

It said it had been convened at Britain’s request.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin

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