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NATO Border Tensions Escalate as German and British Fighters Intercept Russian Planes

The Royal Air Force (RAF) reported that on Friday, three Russian military planes were escorted over the Baltic Sea by the British and German Air Forces. Eurofighter Typhoons from IX (B) Squadron RAF and 71 ‘Richthofen’ Wing of the German Air Force were sent to intercept and visually identify several unknown planes flying close to NATO airspace. These two forces are currently working together as part of Operation Azotize to safeguard the eastern border of NATO.

An RAF press release stated that, “this interception demonstrates that we can act quickly and decisively with our German allies to guarantee the security of the Alliance.” The comment was made by an RAF pilot following a mission on Monday to intercept a Russian plane flying over the Baltic Sea.

Recently, Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes from the German Air Force and the Royal Air Force carried out a joint mission to intercept a Russian jet in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, which appeared to be gathering intelligence. One of the planes that were identified was a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A, which was traveling from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave. Two Russian SU-27 Flanker-B fighters from Kaliningrad escorted the Coot-A south through the northwestern part of the Estonian flight information region.

A pilot involved in the mission remarked, “we frequently observe Russian military planes flying over the Baltic Sea, so this was a routine intercept for us. Nevertheless, intercepting these planes and our commitment to the collective defense of NATO airspace are still steadfast and resolute.”

The Russian Defense Ministry has often claimed that their jets flying over neutral waters comply strictly with international airspace regulations. The government agency has made it clear that they do not infringe on other countries’ airspace or permit close calls with flights from other nations.

On Monday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl stated that the United States is doing everything feasible to ensure that Ukraine’s Soviet-legacy air defense systems remain viable, and that Kyiv persists in the fight until Western systems arrive in the country. He added that air defense systems will be one of the top priorities during the upcoming Ukrainian Defense Contact Group meeting, which will be held at the Ramstein airbase this week and involve more than 50 countries.

According to Kahl, when the conflict in Ukraine spread to the country’s eastern region, the United States shifted its focus from legacy Soviet systems to standard NATO artillery systems, with a specific emphasis on 155mm howitzers and HIMARS systems.

The Washington Post reported last week that Ukraine’s anticipated spring counteroffensive had been postponed due to weather conditions, slow equipment supplies, and ammunition shortages.

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