NATO warplanes had to be scrambled to escort 11 Russian military planes last night over the Baltic Sea.
The Russian warplanes were flying without their transponders switched on, close to Lithuania and Latvia at 11:30pm.
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“They identified two An-26 transport airplanes, one An-12 transport airplane and an additional group of eight aircraft including Su-27 and Su-34 fighter-jets.
“The Russian airplanes had their transponders switched off, had not provided flight plans, and refused to establish contact,” said a report by the Baltic News Service.
It is understood the planes were en route over the Baltic Sea from mainland Russia to the country’s exclave region of Kaliningrad, on the Baltic.
Italian Typhoon fighter jets serving in the NATO air policing mission of the Baltic states were scrambled from the Siauliai air base in Lithuiania.
A report in Riga said the Russian war planes “were detected near Latvia’s territorial waters”, the latest incident in rising military incursions close to the EU states.
The policing mission aims to boost NATO defences in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all formerly Soviet states after being occupied by Stalin’s forces during the Second World War.
Britain, too, has been buzzed by the Russian air forces in recent months more than at any time since the Cold War.
The late night incident came in a week when Vladimir Putin – reappearing after a mysterious 10 day absence – has ordered multiple war games for the Russian armed forces.
This includes the stationing during exercises of Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad and deploying Tupolev 22-M3 strategic missile-carriers in Crimea, which he seized from Ukraine a year ago.
Rusisa’s Northern Fleet were put on combat alert this week in an exercise involving 38,000 soldiers, 41 ships, 15 submarines and 110 planes.