WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Belgian F-16 fighters intercepted two Russian Air Force Su-27 jets and a cargo aircraft over the Baltic Sea during an air-policing mission, NATO said on Wednesday.
"On the afternoon of September 5, 2017, a NATO radar picked up two Russian Federation Air Force fighter jets leaving Kaliningrad airspace heading north in international airspace," the NATO release said. "The military aircraft did not communicate their identity and were not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control agencies."
Belgian F-16s, the release added, took to the skies to identify the Russian Federation Air Force Su-27 jets and Il-76 heavy cargo aircraft. All Russian aircraft returned to Kaliningrad and the Belgian F-16 jets safely landed at Amari Air Base, the release added.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said on September 1 that Russian jets had conducted 8 sorties to intercept targets near the country's borders in the Baltic region in the framework of the Open Skies Treaty.
Since the beginning of May, the mission in Lithuania was carried out by four Polish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, while since September 1 the mission is being conducted by seven US F-15C Eagle fighters.
Since 2014 the number of air incidents involving Russian and NATO planes has increased as a result of the growing presence of the US-led alliance's forces near Russia's western border following the eruption of the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has said Russia had never planned and does not plan to attack any NATO member.