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The Third Beirut Crisis was a small-scale conflict on Earth that saw combat aircraft of the United States and Soviet Union engage each other, caused when both powers were drawn into direct involvement in a conflict between their respective Middle Eastern clients. Through intensive diplomatic efforts, the crisis was defused and did not lead to an all-out war or the use of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, it did contribute to a lasting exacerbation of their relationship and the prolongation of the Cold War up to the time when both sent their expeditions to Minerva.

During the crisis, Tomcats from the US Sixth Fleet battled Soviet MiG-27s. Sergei Tolmasov's squadron was among the MiGs involved, though Tolmasov himself had been transferred out several months earlier and did not participate.

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