The confrontation occurred over neutral waters in the Baltic Sea, according to the Russian news agency TASS. A video shows the NATO fighter jet attempting to approach Sergei Shoigu’s plane, before being chased away by the Sukhoi pilot. The Russian jet abruptly tilts to the left in the direction of the NATO warplane, forcing it to move leftwards.
The Russian Defence Minister had been returning to Moscow from Kaliningrad, and was carrying a TASS reporter on board.
It reported the F-18 jet based in Lithuania had tried to approach Mr Shoigu’s plane, prompting one of two Russian SU-27 fighter jets accompanying to ward it off.
In response to the incident, a NATO official said: “A Russian aircraft, escorted by at least one Russian fighter jet, was tracked over the Baltic Sea earlier today.
“Jets from NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled to identify the aircraft which flew close to Allied airspace.
“Once identification of the aircraft had taken place, the NATO jets returned to base.
“NATO has no information as to who was on board.”
Western military commanders have been on high alert in recent weeks, following Moscow’s vast military exercises in Eastern Europe.
One move saw Moscow donate six MiG-29 fighter jets, 30 battle tanks and 30 armoured scout vehicles to the Serbian military.
Prior to that, a Russian Antonov AN-26 “Curl” transport aircraft was intercepted.
A Typhoon pilot said: “We were scrambled to intercept a Russian AN-26 aircraft routing west close to Estonian airspace.Once complete with this task, a second task was initiated to intercept a group of contacts operating to the south close to Lithuanian airspace.
“These aircraft transiting the Baltic region were not on a recognised flight plan or communicating with Air Traffic Control.”
As well as carrying out air exercises, Russian forcers are reportedly carrying out a vast naval drill in the Baltic Sea.
Moscow blocked off five vast zones of the waters to carry out exercises involving over 4,000 personnel and 20 warships.
The ships will practise anti-submarine warfare as well as firing at air and sea targets.
Russian strategists view the Black and Baltic Seas as key strategic footholds in Europe.