The Russian warplane that caused NATO fighter-jets to take off from the Lithuanian Air Force base on Wednesday was flying next to the Baltic states but did not violate the Lithuanian air-space, the Ministry of National Defence said on Thursday evening in a message that updated a report from the Dutch government.
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

According to the press release, the Dutch Air Force's F-16 fighter-jets identified the Russian transport airplane Ilyushin that was flying above neutral waters from the Kaliningrad region to mainland Russia next to the Baltic states without an agreed flight plan.

"Please note that the national air-space of Lithuania was not violated, the airplane was flying in the NATO response zone above the Baltic states, and entry of an airplane into the zone immediately results in take-off of NATO fighter-jets," the Defence Ministry said in a press release.

The ministry noted that the flights by NATO fighter-jets to identify and escort airplanes that come too close to borders of the Baltic states is a standard procedure of NATO's air-policing mission.

"However, the increased activity of Russian military aircrafts next to borders of the Baltic states is alarming. Flights without agreed plans and switched off responders also threaten security of civil aviation," reads the communiqué.

Reuters news agency earlier cited the Dutch government as saying that two fighter-jets of the Dutch forces patrolling the Baltic skies had taken over the transport airplane Ilyushin when it was flying across the Estonian and Lithuanian air-space.

NATO recently reported an increase in Russia's military activity in the air-space above the Baltic Sea. Last month, Norway's F-16 took off to escort four Russian bombers.

On Thursday, defence ministers of Great Britain, the three Baltic states, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden agreed to step up cooperation in intelligence and air force training in response to Russia's increased activity in northern Europe.

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