20:23 GMT21 September 2020
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    Russia's Aerospace Forces have pointed to a major spike in NATO reconnaissance activity along the country's maritime borders, from the west to the Far East, in recent months.

    A Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept military aircraft from the US, Germany and Sweden over the Baltic Sea on Monday, the Defence Ministry has announced.

    "On August 24, Russian airspace control systems over neutral waters in the Baltic Sea detected three aerial targets approaching the Russian state border," the ministry said in a statement.

    "The crew of the Russian jet identified the aerial targets as a US Air Force RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft, a Gulf Stream reconnaissance aircraft operated by the Swedish Air Force, and an Orion patrol aircraft belonging to the German Navy," the ministry added.

    According to the military, the German plane was flying toward the Russian border at an altitude of just 500 meters and at a speed of 250 kilometers per hour, in a likely effort to avoid detection.

    Lockheed P-3 Orion No. 60+01 of the German Navy
    Lockheed P-3 Orion No. 60+01 of the German Navy

    After being detected, the foreign aircraft altered course away from the Russian border, and the Su-27 returned to its home airfield.

    The Defence Ministry emphasized that the Su-27 carried out its mission in "strict accordance" with international rules on the use of airspace.

    Russian aircraft have been scrambled dozens of times in recent months to intercept NATO spy planes, bombers and reconnaissance drones. Moscow has repeatedly warned that such flights, combined with NATO exercises and troop deployments near Russia's borders, threaten to escalate tensions or accidentally spark an international incident. NATO has said that its flights are in full compliance with international law, and has occasionally accused Russian fighter pilots of engaging in "unsafe" and "unprofessional" maneuvers during the intercepts near Russian airspace.

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