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NATO Says Russian Su-27 Escort Jets Had No Flight Plans, Turned Off Transponders

A Russian Air Force Su-27 fighter jet (bottom) maneuvers near a NATO F-18 warplane over the Baltic Sea on August 13.
A Russian Air Force Su-27 fighter jet (bottom) maneuvers near a NATO F-18 warplane over the Baltic Sea on August 13.

NATO has provided further details on an incident that occurred over the Baltic Sea a day ago, saying alliance warplanes approached two Russian Su-27 escort jets that were flying without a flight plan and with their transponders shut off.

A day earlier, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed two of its Su-27s forced away a NATO F-18 jet after it approached an aircraft carrying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over international waters.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu on August 14 said a Russian Tu-214, escorted by two Russian Su-27s, was tracked on August 13 "over the Baltic Sea near NATO airspace."

"The Tu-214 had a valid flight plan. However, the two escorting Su-27 flew without a flight plan, their transponders were switched off, and they did not communicate to air traffic control."

Lungescu said two jets from NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission were scrambled to visually identify the aircraft, "as is routine."

"They monitored the planes at a safe distance, but one of the Russian fighters conducted an unsafe maneuver, cutting into the flight path of one of the NATO jets," she said.

Lungescu said NATO did not know who was aboard the Tu-214.

Encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes have increased as Moscow seeks to demonstrate its resurgent military might.

In an unrelated incident on August 14, state-run TASS news agency said two Russian Tu-95MS "missile-carrying bombers" were "shadowed by F-16 fighters of the Norwegian Air Force" while performing what it called "a scheduled flight over the Barents and Norwegian seas."

NATO member Norway has in the past complained about Russian military activity in the region, accusing it of creating "uncertainty about its intentions."

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