Footage apparently taken in the cockpit of a Russian military aircraft appears to show them tailing an American RC-135 reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea.
It is reported that the Su-27 and Su-30 fighters continued to track the plane until it left the area close to Russian airspace.
The region where southern Russia borders Ukraine and the disputed Crimean peninsula has become increasingly tense because of intelligence claims that President Putin is planning an invasion of Ukraine early next year.
Pictures also show Russian military drills underway in regions close to Ukraine, including Voronezh and Belgorod.
Footage said to have been taken in the cockpit of a Russian military aircraft appears to show them tailing an American RC-135 reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea
The region where southern Russia borders Ukraine and the disputed Crimean peninsula has become increasingly tense because of intelligence claims that President Putin is planning an invasion of Ukraine early next year
Russian military have been conducting training exercises in the south as well as the arctic in an escalation of tensions which has left the US and European allies concerned
President Joe Biden said on Friday that he intends ‘to make it very, very difficult for Mr Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do’. Pictured: Putin addresses the delegates of the Congress of The United Russia Party
A report said: ‘Servicemen of the (Vistula) division’s tank and motorized rifle units, as well as logistics specialists, were the first to begin the field exercises.’
The drills ‘will soon be joined by the liaison, air defence, radiation, chemical and biological defence units and military engineers.’
Sniper drills involving 700-plus military shooters are underway in four regions in striking distance of Ukraine while separately Moscow warned Western navies to stay out of Arctic waters close to Russia, accusing NATO of ‘provocative’ activity in a vast region where Kremlin war games are now underway.
This came as the Washington Post claimed US intelligence believes the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive against Ukraine in the early part of next year.
A Biden administration official was cited as saying: ‘The Russian plans call for a military offensive against Ukraine as soon as early 2022 with a scale of forces twice what we saw this past spring during Russia’s snap exercise near Ukraine’s borders.’
The plans ‘involve extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups with an estimated 175,000 personnel, along with armour, artillery and equipment,’ said the unnamed official.
An unclassified U.S. intelligence document reportedly obtained by The Post includes satellite photos and shows Russian forces massing in four locations.
Fears are growing of an imminent conflict in eastern Europe as Russia and Belarus carry out snap military drills close to where a migrant crisis is playing out on Poland’s border, while Washington warns Putin is preparing to invade eastern Ukraine
Amid the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Belarus is pressuring Europe over migrants and has threatened to cut off gas supplies to the continent by shutting the Yamal-Europe pipeline which runs through its territory (pictured)
Poland has deployed some 15,000 troops to its eastern border where they have spent much of this week trying to hold back thousands of migrants that Lukashenko’s regime is accused of forcing into the region
Some 50 battlefield tactical groups are deployed along with ‘newly arrived’ tanks and weaponry, the document alleged.
President Joe Biden said on Friday that he intends ‘to make it very, very difficult for Mr Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do’.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week: ‘We don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade.
‘We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so on short order should he so decide.’
Sukhoi Su-27PU/Su-30 jets
Entered service: 1996
Maximum speed: 1,320mph
Maximum altitude: 56,800ft
Empty weight: 39,000lb
Max weight: 76,000lb
Engine: Two Saturn AL-31F3 turbofans
Russia has accused the West of whipping up tension over Ukraine.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: ‘It is their tactic. It has been their strategy for decades.
‘They create a situation of tension, a situation of controlled chaos but sometimes they lose control of the chaos they create to lobby their interests.’
Russia has made clear its ‘red lines’ include the deployment of Western strike weapons in Ukraine, and the ex-Soviet state being made a NATO member.
Deputy speaker of the Russian senate, Konstantin Kosachev, said Moscow had the right to take measures prepare for the outbreak of conflict in separatist areas of Ukraine.
‘We have no plans to attack Ukraine,’ he said.
‘We have no heightened military activity at the Ukrainian borders. There is no preparation for an offensive operation.’
He claimed that Kyiv may launch a ‘provocation’ or military escalation with the ‘full information and maybe military support’ from the West.
‘This scenario is quite probable and quite predictable, and we are ready for it,’ he said.
A close Putin aide Yuri Ushakov also dismissed suggestions that the Kremlin was escalating tensions but insisted Moscow had the right to move troops on its own territory.
‘There is no escalation. We have the right to move troops on our territory, but there is no talk of any kind of escalation at all,’ he claimed.
And Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, said the West should act as a brake on Ukrainian shelling of the pro-Russian population in Donetsk.
‘We believe that in the first instance it would not be bad for Washington to persuade Kyiv to recognise the importance of taking into account the opinion of the Donbas population and to stop shelling it,’ he said.
Northern Fleet commander Admiral Alexander Moiseyev was quoted by TASS saying ‘the navies of the USA and NATO bloc countries are continuing the practise of carrying out regular single and group voyages by surface warships in the Barents Sea’.
He warned: ‘We note a rise in the duration of periods when US Navy ships and submarines are present in the Barents and Norwegian Seas.’
There were more exercises and a rise in the intensity of training flights by American strategic bombers in the region, he said.
‘Such actions have a provocative nature and a negative influence on the system of regional security and as a whole,’ he said.