Polish patrol plane incident was 'Russian provocation’: gov’t spokesman
Friday’s incident in which a Russian fighter jet approached a Polish border guard plane on patrol for the European Union over the Black Sea near Romania, without keeping a secure distance, was “a provocation by Russia,” the Polish government spokesman has said.
Piotr Müller.PAP/Andrzej Lange
Piotr Müller made the remark in a television interview on Monday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
He told public broadcaster TVP Info: “This action by the Russian military should be interpreted as a provocation.”
On Friday, a Polish border guard plane on patrol for the European Union’s border agency Frontex over the Black Sea near Romania narrowly avoided a collision with a Russian fighter jet, Romania and Poland said at the weekend.
A Russian Sukhoi SU-35 jet carried out „aggressive and dangerous manoeuvres” approaching the Polish aircraft without keeping a secure distance, leading to turbulence, loss of altitude and a temporary loss of control of the plane by the Polish crew, Anna Michalska, spokeswoman for Poland’s border guard agency, tweeted on Sunday.
The Russian jet approached the Polish plane three times, according to the PAP news agency.
The Polish aircraft was a Let L-410 Turbolet, a short-range twin-engine transport aircraft designed and produced by Czech manufacturer Let Kunovice, according to the Romania Insider website.
‘Provocation by Russia’
Asked about the incident in Monday’s interview, the Polish government spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we are going to witness such provocations. Let’s remember that it’s a mission by the Polish Border Guard for the EU’s border agency Frontex, designed to protect and monitor the bloc’s external borders, in this case on the territory of Romania.”
Müller stated: “This action by the Russian army should be interpreted as a provocation.”
He added that “Russia is looking … to create some kind of accident, an event that would have a bad aspect, but for which, at the same time, they could … deny culpability, saying that the aircraft flew past.”
Müller told TVP Info: “Russia is not doing as well as it would wish on the Russo-Ukrainian front, so it is searching for some kind of ‘success’ for its propaganda.”
‘More Russian provocations may follow’
Müller cautioned that „provocations similar to the incident with the Polish border patrol plane will be happening more often” and Russia may also target Polish memorial sites, among other facilities, he said.
He told TVP Info: “Unfortunately, we must take that into account. Authoritarian countries that don’t abide by the rules of democracy have the advantage of being able to take such steps.”
On Sunday, Müller said the incident “looked like a planned provocation by Russia.”
He told private television Polsat News that „the crew acted responsibly and luckily nothing happened.”
The Polish government spokesman added: “We can see that Russia is trying to draw international attention by staging such provocations.”
Poland’s Permanent Representative to NATO Tomasz Szatkowski said in a tweet on Sunday: “Yet another such provocative action of the Russian Air Force – this time against a Polish Border Guard non-military aircraft performing its legitimate mission in the international air space over the Black Sea as part of the Frontex mission.”
Romania’s ambassador to NATO, Dan Neculaescu, tweeted: „More Russian aggressive air manoeuvres over the Black Sea, this time against a Polish Frontex unarmed airplane – nobody was hurt. It happened yesterday, 60 km away from the Romanian Air Space. The Polish crew acted with professionalism.”
Meanwhile, Poland’s Permanent Delegation to NATO wrote: “Another example of provocative and hazardous actions of Russian Air Force towards Allied military and non-military aircraft over the Black Sea and in the vicinity of other Allied territory.”
It added: “Poland and NATO Allies stay vigilant and remain united against any provocations in international airspace.”
Meanwhile, Stanisław Żaryn, the Polish government’s commissioner for the security of information space, said in a tweet: “Russia has carried out yet another hostile action against Poland. In a very serious act of violence, a Russian Su-35 fighter jet attempted to ram a Polish patrol aircraft.”
He added: “Apart from the above, Russia recently made death threats to the Polish ambassador and threatened Poland with a military retaliation claiming it would cease to exist. Russians are cynically escalating tensions.”