09:12 GMT +310 December 2019
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    Seen through the window of another aircraft, an Royal Netherlands Air Force F- 16 military fighter jet participating in NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission operates in Lithuanian airspace during a Ramstein Alloy air force exercise, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Dutch Newspaper Claims Trolls With ‘Russian’ Accent Harassed Netherlands Air Force Pilots’ Wives

    © AP Photo / Mindaugas Kulbis
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    After the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the Royal Netherlands Air Force sent F-16s to the Baltic States as part of a NATO mission. In 2017, a new report suggests, the girlfriends and wives of Dutch pilots serving there started getting calls from strangers asking what they thought of their beloved’s job.

    The partners of Dutch fighter pilots who took part in a NATO monitoring mission in the Baltic were harassed with unpleasant phone calls, the newspaper De Telegraaf reports. According to the outlet, the trolls had "a Russian-sounding accent" and asked if maybe it would be better for them to leave their husbands and boyfriends.

    The incidents are said to have occurred in early 2017, when Dutch F-16s were deployed in the Baltics. Among other things, the strangers asked over the phone what their husbands were doing there, what they thought about it, and whether it would be better if they left the foreign country. The outlet cites its sources as saying that the phone calls came repeatedly and began after the soldiers called home with their own devices.

    The country’s Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) told the outlet that they were aware of the issue, but declined to give any further comment. De Telegraaf notes that it is unclear whether the partners of Dutch soldiers currently deployed abroad are still being harassed. Although the fighter pilots are no longer serving in Eastern Europe, there are still 270 soldiers deployed in Lithuania.

    As the outlet points out, Dutch military personnel serving on missions abroad are not allowed to use local mobile networks on their private phones and are instructed to purchase prepaid devices with local SIM cards. Also, they are only allowed to log in on the Internet using a special Wi-Fi network.

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    Tags:
    Russia, harassment, pilots, Baltic states, Air Force, Netherlands
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