09:30 GMT +312 December 2019
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    Russian Bomber Reportedly Flies Over NATO Aircraft Carrier in Baltic Sea

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    Around 8,600 US and European troops from 18 nations took part in the annual BALTOPS naval exercise that started on 9 June in the Baltic Sea and lasted until 21 June.

    A Russian Su-24 bomber flew close to the Spanish Juan Carlos I aircraft carrier, which was taking part in NATO drills in the Baltic Sea this week, Spanish TV channel Antena 3 reported.

    The Russian aircraft reportedly passed near the aircraft carrier "at relatively low speed" and low altitude. The aircraft "was detected by radars, although no steps were taken, since the maneuvers were not deemed dangerous", according to the TV channel.

    Neither the Russian Defence Ministry nor NATO have commented on the report so far.

    Meanwhile, the Spanish Defence Ministry told a Russian media outlet that it doesn't consider the Su-24's flight "either an incident, or a challenge".

    NATO's 47th BALTOPS exercise was held from 9 to 21 June and involved maritime, air, and ground forces with some 50 ships and submarines and 40 aircraft, as well as 8,600 US and European troops from 18 nations.

    As the drills kicked off, the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement on 10 June that its Baltic Fleet was monitoring the NATO mission. In a parallel development, the Russian Baltic Fleet and the Russian forces in Kaliningrad conducted their own maneuvers.

    Relations between NATO and Russia have been fraught with tension over the past years, as the alliance has significantly boosted its activities in the Baltics and set a sustained course for its expansion eastward.

    The 29-member military bloc has repeatedly justified its enhanced activities in Europe, specifically near Russia's borders, by the need to counteract what it claims is Russian "aggression" - an allegation which Moscow has dismissed as unfounded.

    Moscow has on many occasions voiced concerns over NATO's activities near its borders, stressing that they jeopardise its security and violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act, which prohibits the deployment of significant fighting forces on the territories of new member states.

    Tags:
    troops, bomber, border, naval drills, military exercise, military drills, drills, Baltic Sea, Russia, SU-24, NATO
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