An RAF Typhoon on NATO's Air Policing mission supporting US and Italian JTAC exercise in Romania (Picture: RAF).
Russia

NATO jets scrambled 290 times to intercept Russian planes this year, alliance says

It comes as Moscow says US-Russian talks will start in the New Year.

An RAF Typhoon on NATO's Air Policing mission supporting US and Italian JTAC exercise in Romania (Picture: RAF).

Fighter jets on NATO Air Policing missions were scrambled nearly 300 times to intercept Russian jets this year, the military organisation has said.

It added that they were flying too close to the airspace of member countries.

The RAF frequently contributes aircraft and expertise to the mission in the Baltic and similar operations in Romania. 

The intercept sorties generally occur without any issues as NATO planes take off to identify approaching aircraft and escort them out of the area.

"NATO fighter jets are on duty around the clock, ready to take off in case of unverified flights near the airspace of our allies," said NATO spokesperson, Oana Lungescu.

"NATO is vigilant, and we will always do what it takes to protect our allies."

However, despite increased tensions with Russia over its military build-up on the border with Ukraine, there have been fewer intercept missions against Russian aircraft this year, than the previous year.  

It is not known if these NATO figures are limited to their Air Policing missions, or whether they include member states own intercept flights, such as those undertaken by the RAF's Quick Reaction Alert Force in the UK. 

Separately, Russia's top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, has announced talks between Russia and the United States will begin at the start of the New Year. 

Moscow is continuing to demand Western guarantees stopping NATO's expansion to include Ukraine. 

Watch: HMS Queen Elizabeth: Carrier's Russian jet run-ins.

"It is with the US that we will carry out the main work of negotiations, which will take place immediately after the New Year holidays end," Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said in an interview on Monday.

The festive period in Russia will last for 10 days, until 9 January.

Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO denies membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance's military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.

The US and other allies have refused to offer Russia the kind of guarantee on Ukraine that the Russian President wants, reiterating the NATO principle that membership is open to any eligible country.