Poland Renews Baltic Mission as Russian Incidents Grow

Poland will send four MIG-29 fighters to monitor the airspace over the Baltic states next year amid growing activity by Russian military aircraft near the borders of the NATO alliance.

The government asked the president to authorize the use of the combat jets and 120 personnel to police the airspace over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Jan. 12 to April 30, according to an e-mailed statement. The mission, part of a four-month rotation among members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, will be based in Siauliai, Lithuania.

Allied jets have intercepted Russian fighter aircraft along Europe’s fringes 100 times this year, three times the 2013 total, according to NATO. The increased activity coincides with the U.S. and the European Union accusations that Russia is fueling the separatist conflict in Ukraine, where a September cease-fire is wobbling.

“The aim of the mission is to patrol the airspace over Baltic states and prevent its breach,” Poland’s government said in the statement, following its weekly meeting. “It’ll also provide help to military and civilian planes in case of emergency.”

Poland took part in five air-policing missions over the Baltics from 2006 to this year. Next year’s flights will cost nine million zloty ($2.7 million), according to the statement.

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