NATO Jets Escort Alleged Russian Aircraft Over Baltics Nine Times Last Week

© AP Photo / Mindaugas KulbisNATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission
NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission - Sputnik International
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) fighter jets were scrambled nine times in the past week to accompany aircraft claimed to be of Russian origin, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

VILNIUS (Sputnik) – On average, the jets identified and escorted the alleged fighter and military transport planes twice a day, either flying with switched off radars or without a declared flight plan.

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"On May 16-22 NATO air policing mission in the Baltic states engaged fighters nine times came to recognize and to accompany Russian military aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea," the ministry’s statement, published Monday, read.

Portugal took over the four-month Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania’s Siauliai air base on May 4 with four F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighters.

The three Baltic states comprising Latvia, Estonia and neighboring Lithuania do not possess air patrol capabilities. Since joining NATO in 2004, the three Baltic countries' airspace has been defended by a rotating NATO mission.

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