Russia wards off spy jets as US deploys tanks near border
Iran Press TV
Friday, 04 September 2020 8:51 AM
The Russian military says it has detected more than 40 foreign spy aircraft that were heading toward the country's border over the last week.
The military's official newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda reported on Friday that 43 jets were engaged in reconnaissance activities close to Russia's airspace last week.
The publication said that Russian fighter jets had been scrambled five times to intercept foreign aircraft.
The foreign jets had been prevented from illegally entering Russia's airspace, wrote the newspaper.
The military has also spotted three unmanned aerial vehicles, which were carrying out reconnaissance missions near the Russian borders, it said.
US bombers and spy planes, as well as NATO aircraft, have frequently been detected near Russia's borders.
The provocative flights have particularly increased in frequency since 2014, when the then-Ukrainian territory of Crimea joined Russia following a referendum and when a military conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern about the increasing activities of the US-led NATO forces near its western borders.
US deploys tanks, troops to Lithuanian
Meanwhile, the US was deploying its tanks and troops in Lithuania for two-month military exercises in the region on Friday.
NATO member Lithuania announced on Wednesday that US troops would be moved from Poland for pre-planned military exercises.
They were "defensive in nature and not directed against any neighbor, including Belarus," a Lithuanian army spokesman said.
The deployment, which will last until November, includes 500 US troops and 40 vehicles, such as Abrams tanks and Bradley armored troop carriers, according to an army spokesperson.
France, Italy, Germany and Poland will also send up to 1,000 troops as well as military aircraft to Lithuanian to take part in an annual exercise stretching between September 14-25, the spokesperson added.
Earlier this month, Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis expressed concern over possible deployment of Russian forces to Belarus.
Russia has promised to help maintain security in Belarus, after political opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko contested his re-election last month and organized street riots.
Lukashenko won Belarus' presidential election by a landslide, securing him a sixth term in office, but the opposition claimed electoral fraud. The allegations were echoed by Western states.
The president has already expressed concern about foreign meddling in the internal affairs of his country and warned against potential military action by NATO against his country.
He also warned of a Western plot to destabilize Belarus.
Russia warns EU over 'destructive' remarks
In a related development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against foreign meddling in Belarus on Wednesday.
Lavrov accused NATO and the European Union of making "destructive" statements about Belarus.
EU foreign ministers threatened to prepare new sanctions against Belarusian officials over what they described as "violence, repression and the falsification of election results."
President Vladimir Putin also said earlier this week that the West had prepared its rejection of Belarus' presidential election result before the vote was even held.
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