NATO sent its F-35 fighter jets to intercept the Russian planes. Thursday’s May 27 operation reportedly took place after the Norwegian Air Force spotted the plane flying near the border with Finland.
The planes have been identified by Norway as a Mikoyan MiG-31 “Foxhound” and a Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer” plane, MailOnline reports. The Air Force reportedly said the Russian planes flew into the Norwegian Sea before returning east.
Finland and Sweden have filed applications to join NATO, heightening tensions with Russia which had warned the two countries against pursuing membership in the military alliance. In April, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO was “not the kind of alliance that provides peace and stability” and that Russia would “rebalance the situation” if Sweden and Finland joined NATO.
Stine Barclay Gaasland, head of communications in the Norwegian Air Force, told Norwegian TV 2 Nyhetene that two F35 fighter jets are kept on standby. “In 15 minutes they have to be in the air and ready at all times,” he said.
There would have been “more aggressive action” if the Russian planes had entered Norwegian airspace, Gaasland said. Sweden and Finland are due to attend the NATO summit in Madrid from June 28-30.
Speaking on Tuesday (25 May) ahead of a meeting of the Council of Baltic Sea States, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia had left Sweden and Finland “no choice” but to join NATO. She said Germany would support the two countries joining, calling it a “real gain” for the military alliance.
This week, Swedish and Finnish delegations were due to hold talks in Ankara with senior officials in a bid to overcome Turkey’s objections to their NATO candidacy. Delegations from Sweden and Finland are due to hold talks in Ankara with senior officials in a bid to overcome Turkey’s objections to their historic offers to join the NATO alliance.
Turkey’s objections dampened Stockholm and Helsinki’s hopes for early NATO membership. The 30 members must agree to admit new countries.