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Ministry links increase in Russian aircraft activity in Baltic region with NATO drills

Lithuania’s Defense Ministry says the recent increase in Russian aircraft activity in the Baltic region has to do with NATO military exercises in Lithuania and the Baltic Sea.

“The Russian aircraft activity in the region may have to do with the international exercises BALTOPS, Iron Wolf 2024-1, which are currently taking place in the Baltic region,” the ministry told BNS on Monday.

Earlier in the day, it said NATO fighter jets stationed in the Baltic states as part of NATO’s Baltic Air mission, were scrambled 11 times last week to identify and escort Russian aircraft that violated the rules when flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

In total, seven SU-24 tactical bombers, five SU-27 fighter jets, four SU-30 fighter jets, two SU-34 fighter-bombers, four IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft, two AN-30 reconnaissance and aerial mapping aircraft, and once an IL-96 passenger plane were identified and escorted.

Most of these aircraft were flying without flight plans, had their onboard transponder off and were not in contact with the regional flight control center.

Most of them took off in the Kaliningrad region returned there after flying in international airspace, while some of them flew from Kaliningrad to mainland Russian or flew above mainland Russia by entering international airspace.

During the previous week, NATO jets in Lithuania were also scrambled 11 times to identify and escort Russian aircraft flying in international airspace.

Normally, only a few such cases are recorded per week.

In the first week of June, NATO fighters patrolled airspace above the Baltic Sea twice.

BALTOPS’24, the largest military exercise to date, is currently taking place in the Baltic Sea, involving around 9,000 troops and other personnel, more than 50 ships and over 80 aircraft from 20 NATO countries.

In addition, Lithuania hosted the international Exercise Iron Wolf 2024-1 with more than 3,700 troops and more than 30,000 aircraft, Lithuanian and allied troops and over 500 pieces of military equipment on June 7-17.

The NATO Baltic Air policing mission is being carried out from Lithuania and temporarily from Latvia as Estonia’s Amari air base is undergoing reconstruction and infrastructure upgrades.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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