ROSTOV-ON-DON, August 12. /TASS/. NATO’s reconnaissance aircraft intensified flights in the airspace over the Black Sea almost threefold this year, Commander of the Russian Southern Military District’s 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army Nikolai Gostev said on Thursday.
"NATO countries have been displaying a genuine interest in the Russian southern borders lately," the commander said in an interview with the Southern Russia Military Bulletin newspaper.
"Compared to last year, the intensity of NATO reconnaissance aircraft flights over the Black Sea has increased almost threefold. For the sake of comparison, the aircraft of our Western ‘partners’ performed 270 reconnaissance flights in 2019, about 530 in 2020 and over 560 since the start of this year in the southern area of responsibility," the paper quoted the commander as saying.
French warplanes and also tactical aircraft of the NATO allied forces joined the flights of US spy planes and drones, he said.
"Not a single flight that they perform remains unnoticed and the Army’s air defense capabilities track these flights round the clock and we timely react to them, while strictly complying with international law regulations," the commander pointed out.
The Army’s air defense quick reaction alert forces have been scrambled 15 times since the start of the year to identify and intercept foreign aircraft, he said.