THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- NATO jets were scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 in response to Russian aerial provocations near unauthorized airspace, the alliance's secretary general reported Thursday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed NATO's mandate "to protect and defend our Allies" during a visit Thursday to Estonia's Amari Airbase. During a meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, the secretary general spoke about the substantial increase in Russian air activity "all over Europe."
"NATO jets have been scrambled over 400 times close to NATO airspace -- 50 percent more than last year. This pattern is risky and unjustified. So NATO remains vigilant. And we are ready to defend all Allies against any threat."
Of those 400 intercepts, 100 of them were conducted by NATO's Baltic air police, triple the number of incidents in the region last year.
"They are not filing their air flight plans. They are not turning on the transponders. And they are not communicating with the civilian air traffic control," Stoltenberg said.
"We are calling on Russia to conduct their military air activities in a responsible way and respecting international norms for this kind of air activity," he added.
Earlier this month, the London-based European Leadership Network released a report that found the incidence of encounters by Russian military planes is at Cold War levels. 2014 marked "the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russia has been rather openly treating NATO and its partners as potential opponents, training accordingly and testing our defenses."