A NATO jet intercepts a Russian plane near the Baltics earlier this year (photo: twitter(
Russia is stepping up its 'provocative' military actions around the Baltic states amid the crisis in the Ukraine, NATO claims.
The comments come after a Russian spy plane allegedly entered Estonian airspace last Tuesday. Tallinn says the spy plane incurred into its airspace before being seen off by NATO planes. Moscow has denied the claims
“I would suggest that the level of this provocative flying is higher than at the height of the Cold War,” a NATO spokesman said, cited by the Voice of America news agency.
The spokesman added that there has been a“a threefold increase in the number of NATO intercepts this year than last year in the Baltic region.”
His comments were echoed by the head of Latvia's armed forces Raimonds Graube. Speaking to members of Latvia's parliament last month, Graube said around 140 Russian jets and warships had been observed near its borders this year.
"All these processes cause concern. I have a question, why is such a demonstration of force needed? There must be some political reason behind it. There should not be fear of a direct threat, as we have to see the full picture about how the escalation will turn out. However, we know that any escalation can lead to unpredictable moves," Graube said, cited by the LETA news agency.
NATO, which policies the area from the skies, says Russian activities are provocative because the planes don’t need to fly the way they do to get to where they’re going. The planes don’t file a flight plan and they don’t “squawk,” meaning they don’t send out information that other airlines and air traffic controllers need to track planes, NATO says.
“One of the reasons we intercept is that we need to visually see them so we can tell commercial air traffic control” who then passes the information to commercial airliners in the area, the NATO spokesman said.
Sweden on Friday called off a search for what it suspected was a Russian submarine in its territorial waters. Last month, Russia abducted an Estonian intelligence officer in a cross-border raid. Russia claimed the officer was apprehended spying in Russian territory.
(Edited by Rayyan Sabet-Parry)