Russian military aircraft have been spotted flying close to French naval ship eight times in as many months, Agence France Presse reported, citing the country’s naval chief of staff Admiral Christophe Prazuck.
Speaking before the Senate’s international and security commission in April, Admiral Prazuck said that early this year a Russian fighter jet from the Tartus naval base in Syria had allegedly flown “dangerously close” to the French frigate Aquitaine, which has been cruising off the Syrian coast since 2015.
Prazuck added that this incident “could have resulted in a conflict.”
AFP quoted a source in the French military as saying that after the incident “the crew [of the Aquitaine] was forced to remind the Russian plane about the rules of approach.”
The agency added that the incident happened a few days before the coordinated US, British and French missile strikes on Syria in April.
Admiral Prazuck also said that over the past few years Russia and China had considerably beefed up their naval and strategic status.
“Over the past four years China has created a naval force commensurate with that of France, while Russia has added 50 percent to its exiting submarine force. Therefore the naval and strategic status of these two countries has changed in the past several years,” the Admiral concluded.
On April 14, US President Donald Trump ordered the “launch precision strikes on Syria” in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, described by Moscow and Damascus as a false flag. The attack was joined by British and French air forces.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian defense forces managed to shoot down 71 out of the 103 cruise missiles launched, including all those that had been fired at Dumayr military airport located 40 kilometers (24 miles) north-east of Damascus.