British and German fighters intercept a Russian plane near Estonian airspace

Archive – A Typhoon fighter in the service of the British Air Force – Sac Maryanne Williams Raf/UK Min / DPA

UK and German military aircraft have intercepted near Estonian airspace a Russian aircraft engaged in in-flight refueling, in a maneuver that passed without further incident and took place on Monday, according to the British government.

The operation involved a Typhoon from the U.K. Air Force and a similar model from German forces. They took off to escort the Russian aircraft, identified as an IL78 Midas and flying from St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad, after it failed to respond to calls from Estonian controllers.

Subsequently, they proceeded to escort a second aircraft, in this case a commercial type, which was also flying close to Estonian airspace, according to the British Ministry of Defense, which has defended these routine operations under the NATO umbrella »at this time of tension» due to the development of the conflict in Ukraine.

UK Secretary of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey stressed that »NATO remains the cornerstone of collective security» and noted that operations such as Monday’s demonstrate the willingness of member states to respond to »any potential threat» to the bloc’s borders.

CRASH IN THE BLACK SEA This event follows another incident on Monday that involved the downing of a U.S. military drone in the Black Sea after it was hit by a Russian fighter jet. Washington has denounced an »unprofessional» and »unsafe» maneuver and has expressed its displeasure to Moscow through diplomatic channels.

The commander of U.S. forces in Europe and ‘number two’ of NATO’s military branch, General Christopher G. Cavoli, informed all allied countries of the incident on Monday, according to Atlantic Alliance sources.