Two Dutch fighter jets which were on a Nato patrol mission intercepted a Russian transport aircraft when it was allegedly attempting to fly close to Estonian and Lithuanian airspace but Russia's defence ministry has denied any violation.
The F-16s escorted the Ilyushin transport plane until it headed towards the city of Kaliningrad, the Russian base in the Baltic Sea. The plane was originally flying from Pskov to Kaliningrad.
The Dutch defence ministry said in a statement the Russian plane was approaching the skies of Estonia and Lithuania but did not mention it violated territorial airspace.
The four-engine aircraft was intercepted by Poland-based F-16 Nato fighters because the Russian jet did not file a flight plan in that airspace.
The Baltic skies are routinely patrolled by jets from the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and Portugal. Nato has stepped up its airspace operations amid the sharply increasing tensions over Russia's growing aerial activities over the Baltic region.
"The flight passed along an established route over neutral waters of the Baltic Sea in strict accordance with international rules of airspace use," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement in response to the latest interception.
The encounter is likely to fuel further tensions in the wake of Nato's stepped up missions and Russia's growing operations.