Serbian President says he will demand answers from NATO after Moscow informed him that a NATO fighter jet tracked an Air Serbia passenger plane in Russian airspace on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) decorates Serbian President Alexandar Vucic (R) with the Order of Alexander Nevsky, in January 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV / POOL
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday night said Russian air traffic control had told him that a NATO fighter jet tracked an Air Serbia passenger plane within Russian airspace on Wednesday near the Latvian border.
Making it clear he accepted the Russian claim, Vucic said Serbia would seek additional information from Russia and from NATO.
With NATO apparently in mind, he said Serbia wanted to “see who is pretending to be smart and with what ‘fighters’ they are endangering civil aviation and civilians on a flight”.
He told national broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia, RTS, that Serbia has the coordinates of where the plane appeared, noting that the military fighter jet “resembled a Phantom 15 or a grey Eurofighter”.
The Eurofighter is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft providing simultaneously deployable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities. Seven countries use them, including Britain, Italy, Austria and Spain.
The “NATO plane [was flying] only a kilometre below [the Air Serbia plane] in the Russian air zone”, he said.
“I am telling you [the public] this so that you can understand the scale of the pressure that we are facing because Serbia is the only country [in Europe] that [still] has flights to Moscow and [St Petersburg] at the same level as before,” he added.
BIRN asked NATO to comment on the allegation that one of its fighter jets had tracked an Air Serbia flight in Russian airspace, potentially endangering its safety, but did not receive an immediate reply by the time of publication.
Air Serbia has continued flying to Russia. Serbia is one of the few European countries not to stop flying to Russia or close its air space to Russian planes as part of sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia voted for a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, but Russia is one of its main allies and it has refused to impose sanctions.
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