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UK jets intercepted 3 Russian military aircraft en route to the Baltics

Amanda Macias and Reuters

RAF Typhoon fighter jets

British Typhoon fighter jets have intercepted three Russian military transport aircraft approaching the Baltic States, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

The British fighters, scrambled from the Amari air base in Estonia, intercepted the Russian aircraft, which were not transmitting a recognized identification code and were unresponsive, the ministry said.

"We were able to instantly respond to this act of Russian aggression - demonstration of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense," Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement. 

The latest Russian interception comes one month after two Russian warplanes with no visible weaponry flew simulated attack passes near a US guided missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea.

REFILE - ADDING DATEAn U.S. Navy picture shows what appears to be a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft making a very low pass close to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken April 12, 2016 and released April 13, 2016. REUTERS/US Navy/Handout via Reuters

(Thomson Reuters)
Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft makes low pass close to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea.

The repeated flights by the Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes, which also flew near the ship a day earlier, were so close they created wake in the water, with 11 passes, the official said.

The incident came as NATO plans its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to counter what the alliance, and in particular the Baltic states and Poland, consider to be a more aggressive Russia.

The three Baltic states, which joined both NATO and the European Union in 2004, have asked NATO for a permanent presence of battalion-sized deployments of allied troops in each of their territories. A NATO battalion typically consists of 300 to 800 troops.

(Reuters reporting by Guy Faulconbridge)

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