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UK Scrambles Jets to Intercept Russian Planes Near Baltics

FILE - A British Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon takes off from Gioia del Colle NATO airbase in southern Italy.
Britain said on Wednesday it had scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept seven Russian military aircraft flying near the Baltic states as tensions between the West and Russia over the Ukraine crisis remained high.

NATO last month tripled the number of fighter jets patrolling the Baltics to beef up the alliance's defenses in Eastern Europe, with Britain contributing four typhoons to the operation.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday it had launched the Typhoons on Tuesday after four separate groups of aircraft were detected in international airspace near the Baltics by NATO air defenses.

It said the aircraft had been identified as a Russian Tupolev Tu-22 bomber, four Sukhoi Su-27 fighters, one Beriev A-50 early warning aircraft, and an Antonov An-26 transport aircraft.

They appeared to be carrying out routine training, it said.

“The Russian aircraft were monitored by the RAF Typhoons and escorted on their way,” the ministry said in a statement