Russia says official's plane in near-miss with fighter jet over Europe


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Moscow alleged that a French military jet came dangerously close to an aircraft carrying the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament as he flew through French airspace on Monday, but Paris said it was actually a Swiss jet.
The Russian foreign ministry said it summoned the French ambassador in Moscow to protest over what it described as "a dangerous proximity between a French air force jet in its national airspace and an airliner carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation."
But France's defense ministry said no French aircraft was involved in the incident, which according to Moscow's account happened on Monday. The French foreign ministry said the aircraft involved was Swiss, without giving any details.
"It's a Swiss aircraft," a French foreign ministry official said. A spokesman for Geneva airport, Bernard Stampfli, said he had no information on the alleged incident, but that he was making inquiries.
The incident happened as Russian parliamentary speaker Sergei Naryshkin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, headed to Geneva, in Switzerland, to attend an international meeting of parliamentarians.
Geneva's airport is very close to Switzerland's border with France, which may have led to confusion about whose airspace Naryshkin's aircraft was in when the incident took place.
The Russian foreign ministry said: "The ambassador was informed of Russia's deep concern over what happened. It was underlined that such actions by Paris undermine the possibility of using France as a venue for conducting international meetings and talks."
Earlier this month, Putin traveled to Paris to take part in talks on the conflict in Ukraine along with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
There has been an uptick in the number of near-miss type incidents involving NATO and Russian military aircraft since the Ukraine conflict caused a surge in tensions.
NATO member states have accused Russian military jets in particular of flying dangerously close to Western military and civilian aircraft on numerous occasions. Moscow has denied breaking any aviation rules.

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