France: Shot Across the Bows

Off the Algerian coast one day last week a Russian Ilyushin 18 turboprop airliner cruised along in the early afternoon sunshine. Alone in the blue skies at 28,000 ft., it had aboard the Soviets' figurehead of state, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Leonid Brezhnev, 54, on his way to visit Guinea via a stopover in Morocco. At precisely 2:18 p.m. the Ilyushin got company.

Lazing alongside were three French air force "Mistral" jets. One waggled its wings as if to signal to the Ilyushin. The Russian pilot stolidly pursued his course, and for eight minutes the jets merely...

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