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World - AP Europe
Russia Sends Jets to Eye U.S. Spy Planes
17 minutes ago

MOSCOW - The Russian Defense Ministry said it deployed two fighters Saturday to track a U.S. spy plane flying near the Russian border with neighboring Georgia.

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Russian air defense systems locked on to the American U-2 plane as it began its flight over the former Soviet republic of Georgia, ministry spokesman Nikolai Deryabin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"To prevent the possible breach of the Russian border, two destroyers were sent up," Deryabin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

It was not immediately clear what the plane was doing. The United States has expressed concerns about the alleged presence of Islamic militants linked to Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al-Qaida network in Georgia's rugged border region near Russia's breakaway region of Chechnya (news - web sites). The U.S. Embassy had no comment.

Deryabin said the U-2 spy plane flew about 12 to 19 miles from Russia's border. He said this was the third time that Russian air defense systems have spotted a U.S. spy plane along this route.

Deryabin said these incidents "cannot but arouse bewilderment and worry from Russia's military leadership," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Georgia, an impoverished Caucasus Mountains nation eager to bind itself closer to the West, has accepted Washington's help in forming its own anti-terrorist units to fight the militants.


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