The British and German Air Forces escorted three Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea last Friday, the Royal Air Force said in a statement.
Eurofighter Typhoons from the RAF’s IX (B) Squadron and the German Air Force’s 71 ‘Richtofen’ Wing were scrambled to intercept and visually identify several unidentified aircraft flying close to NATO airspace. The two forces are currently working side-by-side as part of Operation Azotize to protect the eastern flank of NATO’s border.
One of the aircraft was identified to be a Russian Air Force IL-20 Coot-A intelligence aircraft transiting from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave. It was met by two Russian SU-27 Flanker-B fighter jets based in Kaliningrad which escorted the Coot-A south through the north-west area of the Estonian flight information region.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has repeatedly stated that their jets perform flights in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace over neutral waters. The department emphasized that they do not cross airways and do not allow dangerous encounters with aircraft from other countries.
Meanwhile, S Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said on Monday that the United States is doing everything possible to ensure that Ukraine’s Soviet legacy air defense systems remain viable and Kyiv stays in the fight until the moment when Western systems arrive in the country.
“We’re doing everything we can to both make sure that Ukraine’s Soviet legacy air defense systems remain viable and that Western systems arrive so that Ukraine could stay in the fight, and I’m confident that we and our allies will be able to do that,” Kahl said during a virtual discussion hosted by Foreign Policy.
Air defense systems will be a top priority during the upcoming meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base this week with more than 50 participating countries, Kahl added.
According to Kahl, the United States shifted from Soviet legacy systems to NATO standard artillery systems as the conflict in Ukraine moved to the eastern part of the country, with 155mm howitzers and HIMARS systems receiving much attention.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Ukraine’s expected spring counteroffensive had been delayed by weather, slow equipment supply, and ammunition shortage.
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