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VILNIUS, June 22. /TASS/. NATO fighters based at the Lithuanian air base Zokniai took off ten times from June 15 to 21 to follow up Russian military planes, the Lithuanian Defence Ministry said in a weekly survey of situation in the airspace issued on Monday.
The report said the Lithuanian air space had not been violated in these incidents. "Part of flights were pre-agreed, made with the transponder switched on and with air/ground radio contact maintained, while another part were not pre-agreed flights carried out in the silent mode," the ministry said.
They said ten was the highest figure in the past few months.
On June 15, NATO planes followed up two Russian reconnaissance aircraft Ilyushin Il-20, while on June 16 they escorted an Il-22, an A-50 tactical warning and control system aircraft, a transport plane An-26 and a MiG-31 fighter jet.
On June 17, they escorted an Il-22, a MiG-31, an A-50 and an An-26 military planes as well as a Tupolev Tu-22M bomber. On June 18, air patrols identified a Russian Il-20 plane. All flights were made between Russia’s enclave Kaliningrad region and mainland Russia.
Identifying and escorting an air target is a routine procedure. It is carried out by fighter jets of NATO member stationed at the Lithuanian air base and patrolling the airspace of the Baltic States which have no technical means of their own to do this.
At the present time, four Norwegian and four Italian fighters are stationed at the Lithuanian air base.
The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly stated that all flights of Russian military planes are made over the neutral waters in strict compliance with the international rules of the use of airspace.