Home World NATO had to send fighter jets to intercept Russian military aircraft more than 300 times in 2023

NATO had to send fighter jets to intercept Russian military aircraft more than 300 times in 2023

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NATO had to send fighter jets to intercept Russian military aircraft more than 300 times in 2023

The international organization said on Friday that NATO was forced to send its air forces more than 300 times in response to Russian military aircraft over the course of 2023.

“NATO has permanent air police missions that call on Allied aircraft to fly over when there are signs of Russian military aircraft approaching NATO airspace in unpredictable ways,” NATO said in a statement.

Hundreds of incidents have occurred as Russia continues to use ground, air and naval forces to achieve strategic gains in its war with Ukraine. Russia invaded its smaller western neighbor for the first time in February 2022.

Acting NATO spokesman Dylan White said: “Russia’s war against Ukraine has created the most dangerous security situation in Europe in decades.” “NATO fighter aircraft are on duty around the clock, ready to take flight in the event of suspicious or unannounced flights occurring near our Allies’ airspace. Air policing is an important way in which NATO provides security to our Allies.”

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Two fighter planes

Two Dassault Rafale fighter jets take off on a mission from Viteste Air Base, in the town of Burcia, near the city of Viteste, Romania on October 19, 2023. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a NATO statement, most of the encounters were “safe and professional” and occurred over the Baltic Sea.

“Along NATO’s eastern flank, Russian military aircraft have a history of not transmitting a transponder code indicating their position and altitude, submitting a flight plan, or communicating with air traffic controllers,” NATO said.

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“The vast majority of air encounters between NATO aircraft and Russian aircraft were safe and professional. Violations of NATO airspace by Russian military aircraft remained rare and generally of short duration.”

A pilot works on an airplane

A French army pilot climbs into the cockpit of a Dassault Rafale fighter jet before taking off on a mission at Viteste Air Base, in the town of Burcia, near the city of Viteste, Romania on October 19, 2023. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the Russian invasion last year, NATO reinforced its eastern flank with significant air defences, including more fighter jets, surveillance flights and ground-based air defences.

Three planes flying

Two U.S. Air Force F-35s and a Polish Air Force F-16 participate in a military parade in Warsaw on Polish Army Day, August 15, 2023, to commemorate the 1920 victory over Soviet Russia in the Battle of Warsaw. During the Polish-Soviet War. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)

The Russia-Ukraine war, approaching its second year, saw the largest air assault of the war so far on Friday, when Russian forces fired more than 120 missiles and used dozens of drones to bomb cities across Ukraine.

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At least 18 people were killed and dozens injured in the attack, which lasted more than 18 hours.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, although it is seeking membership and allied members have expressed sympathy for Ukraine being formally added as a member after its war with Russia ends.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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