NATO says it scrambled fighter jets 10 times amid what it called an unusual level of Russian air activity over Europe. Alliance warplanes were scrambled on March 29 “to shadow Russian bombers and fighters during an unusual peak of flights over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea,” NATO said in a statement on March 30. “In all, NATO aircraft intercepted six different groups of Russian military aircraft near Alliance airspace in less than six hours,” the statement said. Norwegian F-16 jets intercepted two Tu-95 Bear bombers, which continued to fly south over the North Sea, prompting Britain and Belgium to scramble Typhoon and F-16 fighters. The same day, the Norwegian warplanes intercepted two Russian Tu-160 bombers over international waters.
Above the Black Sea, Turkish, Romanian, and Bulgarian fighter jets were scrambled after alliance radars detected three Russian military aircraft near NATO airspace, tracking them until they left the area. Separately, Italian fighter aircraft intercepted a Russian Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft which was escorted by fighter jets over the Baltic Sea flying into and out of [the Russian exclave of] Kaliningrad. “Intercepting multiple groups of Russian aircraft demonstrates NATO forces’ readiness and capability to guard Allied skies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command, Ramstein, Germany, was quoted as saying.
The Russian aircraft intercepted on March 29 “never entered Alliance airspace, and the interceptions were conducted in a safe and routine manner,” NATO said.
With information from RFE/RL
FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET
On April 1, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and his Canadian counterpart Marc Garneau discussed topical issues of bilateral and international cooperation. Landsbergis welcomed intensive bilateral relations, thanked Canada for it scontirubtion to ensuring security in the Baltic Sea regions and expressed his solidarity regarding the two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig being held in China for more than two years.
The foreign ministers discussed the situation in Belarus and Russia, noting the need to continue to support civil society in Belarus, to cooperate on the issue of international sancations, and expressed their concern over Alexei Navalny’s deteriorating health. Relations with China were also discussed. Landsbergis and Garneau confirmed the need to strengthen multilateral initiatives and to build a united front against China.
Garneau thanked Lithuania for endorsing the Canadian-drafted “Declaration Against the Use of Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations”, for expressing solidarity with the Canadian citizens held in China, and for its efforts to transfer the family of a member of the Syrian organization “White Helmets” to Lithuania. The ministers affirmed their readiness to hold a joint meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the three Baltic states and Canada in Ottawa as soon as circumstances permit.
With information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania