Russia's Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko has accused the increased presence of NATO air policing mission fighter-jets for the frequent interception of Russian airplanes near the Baltic states.
NATO Air policing mission in the Baltic states
© DELFI

"What NATO is not telling that two years ago and even last year four fighter-jets were patrolling the Baltic air-space, and today the number of NATO aircrafts in the region has been increased to 20 or sometimes even 24. Therefore, the higher number of interceptions has to do with the number of airplanes NATO member-states have stationed in the region," Grushko told the Rossiya-24 TV channel on Friday evening.

This was his explanation of the official numbers of increased activity of Russian airplanes next to the Baltic air-space.

In his words, NATO is constantly trying to picture Russia as the "conflicting side."

"I want to emphasize that the wagon is placed before the horse – what causes danger is the rotations that are carried out by the NATO air force. And NATO cannot understand that stationing of today's potential near our borders and the never-ending exercise requires adequate security measures on our side, and some of the measures will probably involve stepping up the actions in the region, in line with the international law," Grushko stated.

In response to the statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made in Lithuania on Friday that NATO observes the movement of forces and military equipment in Eastern Ukraine, the Russian diplomat said the rhetoric is aimed at justifying the decisions made at the NATO summit in Wales on enhancing the security of the Baltic states and Poland.

Grushko stated that "the Western European society will sooner or later ask questions about the results of the actions for European security.” In his words, the costly actions may lead to questions about “where the money goes, as Europe is going through a crisis."

According to data published by the Lithuanian Defence Ministry earlier this week, NATO fighter-jets were scrambled 112 times so far this year, as compared to merely four in 2010, 37 in 2011, 44 in 2012 and 47 in 2013.

The NATO fighter-jets are usually scrambled to accompany Russian planes in those cases when they are flying near the Baltic airspace without a pre-coordinated schedule or with a transponder switched off.

There have been no air border violations in Lithuania so far this year.

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