British and German fighter jets scrambled to intercept two Russian aircraft flying close to Estonia in a joint NATO mission on Tuesday – hours after a Kremlin warplane downed a US drone over the Black Sea – amid fears of an escalation in the region.
The RAF and German Typhoon jets were reacting to a Russian air-to-air refuelling aircraft after it failed to communicate with Estonian air traffic control in the Baltic Sea, and as it approached NATO airspace.
The Russian Il-78 Midas plane was intercepted as it was flying between St Petersburg and Kaliningrad. The NATO jets were later redirected to also intercept a Russian Russian Antonov 148 military transport aircraft that was also passing close to Estonian air space, the RAF said in a release on Wednesday.
It was the first joint NATO air policing scramble carried out by the two countries, and comes amid a period of heightened tension in the region due to Vladimir Putin‘s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and his threats to Kyiv’s western allies.
Russia today warned it will ‘consider any action with US weaponry as openly hostile’ after the incident involving the drone in international airspace yesterday, which also came as Danish investigators said they had found a `suspicious object` beneath the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, parts of which were mysteriously destroyed last year.
Read more: RAF and German jets scramble to intercept Russian aircraft close to Estonia in joint NATO mission amid growing fears of escalating war – hours after Kremlin warplane downs US Reaper drone