Spanish PM’s conference in Lithuania halted as military jets scramble to intercept Russian warplane

Spanish jets based in Lithuania were scrambled in response to the launch of a Russian warplane

<p>Mr Sanchez and Mr Nauseda stood aside as the Spanish jets took off </p>

Mr Sanchez and Mr Nauseda stood aside as the Spanish jets took off

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A news conference of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda at a Lithuanian air base was interrupted on Thursday when Spanish jets were scrambled to respond to the launch of a Russian warplane.

A live broadcast showed the news conference at Siauliai air base, in front of the nose of a military jet, interrupted after three minutes, as pilots began running towards the plane and climbing inside.

Mr Nauseda briefly continued speaking, until he and Mr Sanchez were led aside. The podiums and flags were removed and media dispersed to clear the way for take-off.

Spanish jets, based in Lithuania on a NATO mission to police Baltic air space, took off after reports that a military jet had taken off from Russia’s Kaliningrad region without filing a flight plan, said a spokesperson for the Lithuanian army’s joint chiefs of staff.

After the take-off, the news conference resumed, and Mr Sanchez thanked the pilots “for the hard work they do to defend the territorial integrity of Lithuania as we just saw”.

There was no danger to Mr Sanchez or Mr Nauseda, the Lithuanian president’s spokesman said.

Seven Spanish Eurofighter jets have been based at Siauliai air base since 30 April for the Baltic air policing mission, which also includes four Italian F-35 aircraft at Estonia’s Amari air base.

The Baltic air police mission routinely follows Russian military aircraft flying over international waters over the Baltic Sea between the Russian mainland and the Kaliningrad enclave. The Russian jets often fly without filing a flight plan.

Reuters

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