Russian warplanes threaten civilian lives

London: NATO’s Secretary-General has said Russia’s warplanes pose a significant threat to the safety of civilian flights as they play a “dangerous game designed to test Western air defences.”

Jens Stoltenberg said the Russian surveillance planes, which fly over international and European airspace, do not follow the safety guidelines designed to minimise the risk of collision. He added that they don’t switch on their transponders or file their flight plans and also do not communicate with civilian air traffic control.

NATO has intercepted more than 100 Russian surveillance aircrafts this year as opposed to 13 last year.

A Scandinavian Airlines flight came close to colliding with a Russian warplane in March when the two came within 90 metres of each other just outside the Swedish city of Malmo, as the aircraft had not contacted air traffic controllers or switched on its transponder.

Disaster was only averted thanks to the Scandinavian pilot’s quick evasive action.

Stoltenberg’s intervention comes after the European Leadership Network (ELN) published a report earlier this month that found almost 40 close encounters had occurred between NATO, Russian and civilian aircraft in the past eight months.

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