Nato has announced the tracking and intercepting of four Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea.

Aircraft of the Air Policing force, including Spanish Eurofighters and Italian F-35 fighter planes scrambled to intercept two Russian Il-22PP MUTE electronic warfare reconnaissance planes, a Su-24 fighter plane, and an Il-76 transport aircraft (known by Nato codename ‘Candid’).

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Nato noted that the Russian planes travelled without flight plans or transponder codes.

After the Russian fighter jets left the Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, they were tracked and identified by Nato’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in Germany.

Staff Allied Air Command chief major general Karsten Stoye said: “The Alliance Air Policing system monitors the airspace across Europe 24/7 and responds when aircraft are identified flying without a flight plan or without a transponder signal.

“The air and sea lanes in this region are congested with large volumes of civilian traffic transiting through the area, so aircraft not following international air safety regulations pose a potential danger to civilian traffic.”

Upon completion of the Baltic Air Policing mission, the Spanish and Italian fighters returned to their respective bases in Lithuania and Estonia.

According to a Nato statement, the Russian fighter jets intercepted on 29 July did not enter Alliance airspace.

The interceptions were said to have been conducted in a routine way.

Nato stated that its fighter jets are on duty 24/7 and are ready to intercept when there are suspicious or unannounced flights near its airspace.

There have been numerous incidents recently of Russian aircraft flying over international waters near Nato territory.