Poland bars Russian plane from its airspace

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland prevented a plane carrying Russia’s defense minister from traveling through its airspace Friday, drawing an angry response from Moscow.

The incident came at a time of tension between the two countries because of Russia’s support for separatists fighting in Ukraine.

The Russian Tu-154 plane was carrying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu home from Slovakia when it was barred from Polish airspace, Polish military spokesman Lt. Col. Piotr Walasek said. He said that probably happened because the Russian pilot mistakenly reported his flight was a military one, not the civilian one for which he had permission.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling Poland’s move a “gross violation of the norms and ethics of communication between states” and said it wouldn’t be left unreciprocated. The Russian plane had to urgently return to Bratislava because of a shortage of fuel, which put the safety of the flight at risk, the ministry said.

Shoigu’s plane flew over Poland later Friday, after it changed its status to civilian.

Bordering both Russia and Ukraine, Poland is deeply concerned about the armed conflict in Ukraine. Warsaw supports Ukraine’s pro-European drive and Polish leaders have condemned the aggression in eastern Ukraine.

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