NATO tracks increased Russian jet activity

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NATO says Russian military activity in the alliance's airspace increased slightly in 2020 as its jets across Europe scrambled more than 400 times to escort or shadow unknown aircraft.

In a statement released on Monday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - a military alliance between European and North American countries - said almost 90 per cent, or about 350, of these missions were connected to flights by Russian military aircraft.

"This is a moderate increase from 2019," NATO said.

"Russian military aircraft often do not transmit a transponder code indicating their position and altitude, do not file a flight plan, or do not communicate with air traffic controllers, posing a potential risk to civilian airliners."

NATO has two air operations centres - one in Germany, covering northern Europe, and one in Spain covering the south - which together monitor all air movement across the continent.