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LITHUANIA

Norway’s Baltic F-16 in first run-in with Russians

The Norwegian F-16 aircraft sent to guard Nato’s eastern border have had their first run-in with a Russian aircraft, after an Antonov An-22 transport aircraft came close to entering Lithuanian airspace.

Norway's Baltic F-16 in first run-in with Russians
The Norwegian F-16 escorting the Russian Antonov An-22 on Sunday. Photo: Norwegian Air Force
According to Norway’s TV2 channel, the Russian aircraft remained in international airspace continually, giving the Norwegian pilot no cause to intervene.  But it did not have its transponders on, as this is not a requirement for aircraft travelling through international airspace. 
 
Norway on Thursday took over the revolving Nato mission in the Baltic States, which it will carry out for the next four months. 
 
Italy, the last country to have the job, sent its fighters out no fewer than 60 times in four months to intercept Russian planes.
 
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in November warned that the growing number of Russian military flights close to Nato borders is a threat to civil aviation.
 
“The problem is that many of the Russian pilots don’t turn on their transponders, they don’t file their flight plans and they don’t communicate with civilian air traffic control," he complained. "This poses a risk to civilian air traffic and therefore this is a problem, especially when the Russian activity increases – because they have more Russian military planes in the air.”
 
In December a Norwegian F-16 found itself in a near collision with a Russian MiG, which suddenly appears at its right. 
 
"We don't know if this was a mistake by the Russian pilot, or a sign of a more aggressive behaviour by the Russians,” Norwegian Armed Forces spokesman Brynjar Stordal told the Wall Street Journal.

LITHUANIA

Lithuanian torture victim still in coma

A 30-year-old Lithuanian man remains in an induced coma more than two weeks after he was found hanging upside down in a stairwell at the farm where he worked in Nærøy, north-central Norway.

Lithuanian torture victim still in coma
Photo: Morten Holm/Scanpix

He is believed to have been left hanging with his hands and feet bound for eight to ten hours, during which time he suffered severe muscular injuries.

Staff at St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim said the man was in a stable condition but his injuries were still considered very serious.

As the victim was placed in a coma shortly after he arrived at the hospital on April 7th, police have not yet been able to question him.

“We were informed that it could happen this week or next week, but it will just have to happen when it happens,” police investigator Bengt Ivan Blom told news agency NTB.

Police are still waiting for the results of a forensic examination conducted at the scene, which they hope will provide them with DNA evidence.

Investigators are also awaiting more details surrounding the victim’s electronic activity, including mobile phone records.

Before losing consciousness, the victim told police he had received a visit from two men at around midnight at his home on the farm where he has worked for several years.

Police are trying to work out how the suspected culprits broke into his home, located on the farm where he worked.

“We’re trying to find out how many keys there were to the building,” said Blom.

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