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Russia protests Ukrainian plane 'provocation' near oil rigs

By Andrew V. Pestano
Russia protests Ukrainian plane 'provocation' near oil rigs
A Ukrainian Antonov An-26 plane made two "provocative passes" near Russian oil rigs, said Russia's Ministry of Defense, which summoned the Ukrainian military attache in Moscow to deliver an official protest on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Tavrida/Krym-1

Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The Russian Black Sea Fleet said a Ukrainian Antonov An-26 plane made two "provocative passes" at a low altitude near Russian oil rigs in the Black Sea.

A spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet denied reports that said security officials on the drilling towers opened fire at the plane. He said the security officials gave the plane flash signal warnings in attempts to prevent a collision.

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"This morning, between 11:30 and 12:00 a.m. Moscow time, an An-26 plane of the Ukrainian armed forces with board No. 53 made two clearly provocative passes at an extremely low altitude near Russian oil rigs Tavrida and Crimea-1 in the Black Sea," the Russian Black Sea Fleet's spokesman told reporters on Wednesday. "All the statements by the Ukrainian side that the An-26 plane was allegedly fired at are an absolute lie."

The spokesman said a security guard gave four flash signals from a signal pistol during the An-26's second pass, adding that "it is clearly understandable for anyone who at least once held a signal pistol or New Year fireworks that there was no and could be no threat to the plane."

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The Russian Ministry of Defense summoned the Ukrainian military attache in Moscow and gave them a note voicing Russia's official protest over the Ukrainian Antonov-26's actions.

"The ministry offered a protest to the attache over an incident where an Antonov-26 turboprop of the Ukrainian Army made two runs-in at Tavrida and Krym-1 drilling rigs at a minimal admissible altitude, which jeopardized the safety and security of their personnel," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Thursday. "The note says the Russian side sizes up the actions of the Ukrainian plane as a provocation."

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