NATO has warned Russia that its military flights pose a threat to civil aviation in the Baltic region after a close encounter between a Russian air force jet and a Swedish airliner, Reuters reports.
A Russian jet flying with its transponder locator switched off on Friday caused a commercial flight from Denmark to Poland to abruptly change course. The near collision elicited a strong rebuke from NATO’s secretary general:
"It is not only a question of increased … flights but it’s the way they’re conducting the flights. They are not filing their flight plans and they are not communicating with civilian air traffic control and they are not turning on their transponders," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference on Monday.
"That poses a risk to civilian air traffic. The important thing is that NATO stays vigilant and that we intercept the Russian flights."
Russia denied its aircraft had posed any hazard to the airliner.
The Swedish military said the Russian jet had turned off its transponder—a communications device, alongside normal radar, that makes it easier for an airplane to be located, especially in congested air space.
NATO said its aircraft have intercepted more than 400 Russian flights this year, a 50 percent increase from 2013.