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Sweden says Russian military plane nearly hit passenger jet; Russia denies

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A Russian military intelligence plane nearly collided with a commercial passenger jet south of Sweden on Friday, Swedish Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Micael Byden said.

Byden said the incident in international airspace forced the commercial flight to change course.

Swedish fighter jets were immediately deployed to identify the aircraft and later identified it as a Russian intelligence plane, Byden said. He said the Russian military aircraft’s transponders were turned off to avoid commercial radar.

But the Russian Defense Ministry refuted the notion that one of its warplanes nearly collided with a passenger jet.

“No prerequisites existed for an air accident related with a flight of a Russian warplane in the international air space over the Baltic Sea on Friday, December 12,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday, according to the state-run ITAR-Tass news agency.

“The flight was being made strictly in compliance with international air space rules, not violating borders of other countries and at a safe distance from traffic routes of civilian aircraft,” he said, adding that the warplane was more than 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the flight route of a passenger jet.

From Christine Theodorou