NATO destroyers accompanied Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea last week, according to a statement made on Monday by the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania circulated in a weekly review of the country’s airspace.
According to the report, on duty aircraft from the Portuguese and Spanish Air Force stationed at Zokniai airbase in Lithiania, escorted Russian An-26 aircraft on July 26. “The plane flew over the Baltic Sea from the Kaliningrad region,” the department informed.
According to a version of the events by the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania, the Russian aircraft maintained contact with ground control centers and kept on its transponder (a device that automatically identifies an in-flight aircraft) but deviated from the pre-agreed flight plan.
On July 27th the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the previous week Russian aircraft flew five times to intercept foreign aircraft. Air reconnaissance along the Russian border was conducted by 25 foreign aircraft.
Control over the airspace of the Baltic states, which do not have their own aviation, are carried out by their NATO allies. Since 2004, on a rotating basis, members of the alliance house their destroyers at Zokniai base. Usually there are four aircraft, but currently, there are 10. Since April 2014, another part of the mission (four more destroyers) were placed at Amari air base in Estonia.