VILNIUS, April 3 The number of Russian jets
flying close enough to Baltic airspace this year to prompt NATO
jets being scrambled has increased to around once a week,
Lithuania said on Thursday, a concern for countries worried
about an increasing assertiveness by Moscow.
"The number of incidents of NATO jets being scrambled to
identify Russian Federation aircraft has increased in January
and February this year," minister of defence spokesman Vaidotas
Linkus told Reuters by email.
NATO jets were scrambled about 40 times in both 2012 and
2013. In 2004, jets were scrambled only once.
Denmark is sending six F16 fighter jets to the Baltic as
part of an expanded NATO air policing mission to reassure
eastern members of the alliance following Moscow's annexation of
Crimea. Patrols will begin on May 1.
Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have been members of NATO
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday any
increase in NATO's permanent presence in eastern Europe to
reassure its allies would violate a 1997 treaty on NATO-Russian
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and