Russian planes spotted near Latvian airspace during drills

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NATO Baltic Air Police (BAP) jets scrambled over the weekend to intercept six Russian air force planes, including a pair of Antonov transport craft AN-26, and a pair each of Sukhoi fighters SU-27 and SU-34.

The Latvian National Armed Forces (NBS) Twitter feed reported the latest escorting of Russian military planes along the edge of Latvian airspace above the Baltic Sea on Saturday evening.

This is the 24th such interception this year of Russian armed forces aircraft flying along the corridor of neutral international airspace above the Baltic sea.

It was sufficiently close to Latvia’s territory to merit the alert - particularly as the Russian aircraft were not using transponders to identify themselves as is customary for air traffic.

The scrambles came as the Russian military snap drills involving more than 80,000 troops and a host of hardware called by President Vladimir Putin wound to a close at the week's end not just in the Baltic Sea region, but across Russia's global armed forces deployments.

Also this weekend the U.S.-led international military exercise "Summer Shield XII" was launched Saturday at the Ādaži military base outside of Rīga. At the same time a column of more than 40 military units, including 20 "Stryker" armored vehicles, passed through Latvia on its way from Estonia to Germany in a conspicuous rollout across NATO allied territories.

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