NATO scrambles jets to intercept three Russian fighter planes close to Estonia, hours after Mike Pence vows US will protect allies from any aggression from Putin

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
By Paul Martin

The planes were two MiG-31 fighter jets and an AN-26 transport plane, NATO said
Russia says jets were carrying out training flight over neutral waters
It said the borders of sovereign states were not violated during the flight
Flashpoint happened 24 hours after Mike Pence vowed to defend US allies

2 August 2017

Three Russian fighter jets have been intercepted close to Estonia, NATO has confirmed.

Two planes were scrambled after the aircraft were detected.

Russia claims its planes were carrying out a training flight over neutral waters above the Baltic Sea, and said no borders were violated.

In a statement, NATO spokesman Dylan White said: ‘Two Spanish F-18 jets assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled from Estonia’s Amari Air Base on Tuesday morning to intercept unidentified non-NATO military aircraft near Estonian airspace.’

He said Finnish planes were also called to deal with the flashpoint, and NATO has said its planes ‘accidentally’ entered Finnish airspace.

NATO has identified the Russian aircraft as two MiG-31 fighter jets and an AN-26 transport plane.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the Russian planes were carrying out a training flight over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea.

A statement said this was done ‘in strict accordance with the rules of the use of airspace, without violating the borders of foreign states’.

The Russian statement continued: ‘During the mission, a NATO F-18 fighter jet approached the Russian air group and followed it for around a minute.

‘After that it changed course and retracted towards the airspace of the Baltic state.’

The incident came 24 hours after US Vice President Mike Pence visited Estonia and addressed escalating tensions with Russia.

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