21:12 GMT26 January 2020
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    NATO has begun intercepting more Russian aircraft as the alliance boosts air policing activities across Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The secretary general noted that NATO is “intercepting more Russian flights now than just a few years ago.”

    “Russia has increased its air activity by around 50 percent, so that is one of the reasons we have increased air policing on the NATO side,” Stoltenberg said during a conference at the Center for Strategic International Studies.

    In early May 2015, Poland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and France began enhanced air policing duties over the Baltic states and Central Europe. According to a NATO press report, the allies involved in the rotational air policing contributed 22 aircraft for the exercises.

    The alliance’s upgraded air policing exercises are part of enhanced collective security measures agreed to in early April 2015.

    Stoltenberg noted that additional collective security measures include a doubling of the size of NATO’s Response Forces, the establishment of a spearhead rapid reaction force, and increasing the size and frequency of military exercises.

    In November 2015, NATO will conduct its largest military exercise in nearly a decade. The exercise called Trident Juncture 2015 is intended to test elements of NATO’s Response Force, its new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and is scheduled to take place largely in Portugal, Italy, and Spain.

    Moscow has repeatedly said that its military exercises do not violate any international norms.

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    Tags:
    military drills, NATO, air policing, intercept, Jens Stoltenberg, Russia
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