15:48 GMT24 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - NATO, not Russia, puts the brakes on international efforts to adopt air safety rules for flights of military jets over the Baltics, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second European Department, Sergey Belyaev, said in an interview.

    "Thanks to the implementation of Sauli Niinisto's initiative, we have managed to remove the critical attitude toward us concerning the use of transponders by military jets over the Baltics since it was Russia that was a priori accused of neglecting this rule. It has [now] become obvious to everyone that the adoption of practical measures to improve the air travel safety is actually hindered by the North Atlantic Alliance", Belyaev said.

    According to the diplomat, Moscow has repeatedly offered NATO to start talks on the aviation safety and piloting, but NATO shies away from substantive dialogue.

    He, nevertheless, expressed hope that the alliance would take a more constructive stance, and "wisdom will prevail sooner or later."

    The air safety in the Baltic region has been in the spotlight for many years. At a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 2016, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto offered to agree on measures that would guarantee aviation safety in the region. He, in particular, proposed banning military jets from switching off transponders during flights. Moscow has backed the initiative. NATO, however, evades making such commitments, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    Russia, Baltic Sea, NATO
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