NATO warplanes performed 10 interceptions of Russian fighter jets and bombers exhibiting “an unusual peak” of flights across Europe, the Western military alliance said in a statement Monday.
NATO shadowed six groups of Russian warplanes in less than six hours as Russia staged large-scale military drills across the country.
“NATO fighter jets scrambled 10 times on Monday, March 29, 2021, to shadow Russian bombers and fighters during an unusual peak of flights over the North Atlantic, North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic Sea,” it said.
Norway and Britain scrambled F-16 fighters while Belgium scrambled Typhoons to track two Russian Tu-95 and two Tu-160 bombers over the North Sea.
Turkish, Romanian and Bulgarian fighters tracked Russian aircraft in the Black Sea, while Italian fighter aircraft intercepted a Russian Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft escorted by fighter jets over the Baltic Sea.
“In all, NATO aircraft intercepted six different groups of Russian military aircraft near Alliance airspace in less than six hours,” NATO said.
The alliance maintained that none of the Russian aircraft entered NATO airspace and the interceptions were “safe and routine.”
The “unusual peak of flights” comes as Russia launched massive Arctic and eastern Siberian maneuvers earlier in the month that expect to include dozens of separate drills.
NATO identified Russia in its 2030 expert report as one of its main threats for the next decade, citing naval build-ups in and around the Barents, Baltic and Black seas among other threats.
NATO suspended relations with Russia following its 2014 annexation of Crimea, while Moscow views the alliance’s eastward expansion as a threat to national security.
National Guard mobilised as Kenosha DA to decide whether to charge officers who shot Jacob Blake
The district attorney in Kenosha, Wisconsin is expected to announce a decision in the Jacob Blake police shooting case imminently, and the city is bracing for protests to follow.
Mike Graveley will decide whether or not to bring charges against the police officer who shot Mr Blake in the back, leaving him paralysed.
Mr Blake was shot seven times in the back during a police response to a domestic incident.
The National Guard has been mobilised and the city has boarded up the courthouse in anticipation of protests following the announcement.
Earlier in the week, Mr Blake’s family and supporters marched through the city to call for the officer to be held accountable for shooting the man.
Mr Blake’s family, speaking ahead of the decision, encouraged residents in the city to speak up. “Let’s be heard around the world,” said Jacob Blake Sr, adding:”We’re not going to stop in Kenosha. We’re headed to DC. We’re headed to Nancy Pelosi’s office.
“We’re headed to whoever is going to be in charge of the Senate.”Because this has got to be federally heard, for not just my son, but for everybody who has suffered police brutality – everyone.”
The organisers for the family’s march said the protesters under their banners were committed to nonviolent protest.