Turkey will begin ratifying Finland’s NATO membership, after months of opposition
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the statement alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Finland...
British and German fighter jets intercepted a Russian aircraft flying close to Estonian airspace Friday, according to a statement from the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF).
That was the second such incident this week as NATO conducts cooperative air policing operations in the region.
The two Typhoon jets intercepted “a Russian military Tu-134 passenger jet, known by the NATO name Crusty, that was being escorted by two Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighter jets, and an AN-12 Cub military transport aircraft,” the RAF said.
The announcement comes as Ukrainian politicians continue public calls for Western combat jets. According to them, the jets are urgently needed to protect against Russian missiles and drone assaults.
Yet, NATO partners are unlikely to send more modern jets to Ukraine, according to defense experts.
The interception is not unusual for NATO aircraft, but the cooperative air policing mission is a first for two NATO countries, according to the statement.
The mission was hailed by the RAF as “reassurance” that the United Kingdom, Germany, and other NATO countries “stand with their Estonian ally at this time of tension.”
“We quickly identified the Russian aircraft and then monitored it as it flew close to NATO airspace,” Richard Leask, an RAF commander, said in the statement.
Air policing missions help NATO identify any aircraft of interest, “ensure we know who they are” and keep everyone in the airspace safe, Leask continued.
“This is part of being a fighter pilot and is what we and our German colleagues have trained together to be able to do,” the commander said.
According to the military statement, the RAF is deployed in Estonia on Operation Azotize, which is tasked with guarding against any aircraft that creates alarm in Baltic airspace.
The United Kingdom will take over command of the German detachment in April, and collaborative missions between the allies will continue until the end of the month.
The two NATO intercepts this week follow the revelation of an amazing aerial video showing a Russian plane buzzing and then seemingly colliding with a US drone over the Black Sea.
The downing of the drone underscored the danger of a direct clash between Russian and NATO assets during Moscow’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
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