NATO aircraft to guard Baltic countries' airspace since Monday

Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Belgium are ready to provide their aircraft to guard the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which are joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Four Belgian aircraft will patrol these countries' airspace day and night from March 29. Their maintenance will be ensured by Norwegian specialists at Lithuania's airports.

A NATO Council meeting, which took place in the middle of March, adopted a decision to ensure the security of the airspace of the tiny Baltic republics, which are joining the alliance, but are unable to perform this duty on their own. NATO will deploy its air forces in Lithuania to this end, Lithuanian Defence Minister Linas Linkevicius said at a press conference. In the beginning, the aircraft will be deployed in Vilnius to be re-deployed to an airbase not far from Shaulyai, when the air strip has been reconstructed there.

The Baltic states and Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia will become full-fledged NATO members on Monday. Air police will be guarding their airspace in line with relative NATO standards, according to Mr Linkevicius.

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