June 12 (UPI) -- A Russian fighter plane intercepted U.S. and Swedish reconnaissance planes over the Baltic Sea near the Russian border, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The Russian Su-27 plane took off to intercept the planes, which the ministry identified as a U.S. RC-135 and a Swedish Gulfstream jet, each a reconnaissance aircraft. The Russian plane then escorted the two planes away from the Russian border.
The incident came Tuesday as NATO conducts the BALTOPS 2019 exercise. About 36 aircraft, 50 surface ships and two submarines from 18 NATO countries are participating in the 12-day military exercise, which began on Sunday.
"On June 10, the Russian airspace control services over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea detected two air targets approaching Russia's state border. A Su-27 fighter jet of the Baltic Fleet's Air Defense Forces was scrambled to intercept the targets," a ministry statement said. "The Su-27 pilot reported on the identification of foreign reconnaissance aircraft and accompanied them, preventing violations of the Russian airspace borders in compliance with all necessary security measures."
The ministry released a video of what it said was the intercept.
An unnamed U.S. military official confirmed the incident but said the action was safe and professional.
On Monday, the United States formally delivered a diplomatic protest, called a demarche, to the Russian government over a near collision last week between a Russian warship and a U.S. Navy ship in the Philippine Sea.
The demarche was delivered to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the chargé d'affaires in the U.S. embassy in Moscow, with a similar message delivered to the Russian Foreign Ministry.