NATO: Moment Pedro Sanchez press conference is interrupted
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Pedro Sanchez was leading a joint press conference with Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda when the two leaders were forced off the stage. Spain’s Prime Minister was discussing his country’s partnership with Vilnius through their partnership with NATO. Within minutes of the conference starting, air force personnel could be seen rushing into the hangar hosting the meeting as pilots scrambled into one of the parked jets.
Authorities later revealed the interruption had been caused by radars picking up a Russian jet entering Lithuanian airspace.
In footage of the conference, one pilot can be seen approaching Mr Sanchez to inform him of the situation before the Spanish leader turned toward Ms Nauseda to say “we have to go.”
The Lithuanian president later shared footage of the event on his social media and hailed the response as an example of cooperation between the two countries.
Mr Nauseda wrote on Twitter: “Witnessed allied solidarity in action today. The press conference w/ PM @sanchezcastejon at airbase of @NATO Baltic Air Police Mission was suddenly interrupted.
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“Fighter jets alpha scrambled after the alarm of the infringed airspace.
“Thank you for our security #WeAreNATO”
Spanish jets, based in Lithuania on a NATO mission to police Baltic air space, took off at 0855 GMT after reports that a military jet had taken off from Russia’s Kaliningrad region without filing a flight plan, said a spokesperson for the Lithuanian army’s joint chiefs of staff.
After the take-off, the news conference resumed, and Mr Sanchez thanked the pilots “for the hard work they do to defend the territorial integrity of Lithuania as we just saw.”
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There was no danger to either Prime Minister Sanchez or President Nauseda, the Lithuanian president’s spokesman said.
Seven Spanish Eurofighter jets have been based at Šiauliaiairbase since April 30 for the Baltic air policing mission, which also includes four Italian F-35 aircraft at Estonia’s Amari airbase.
The Baltic air police mission routinely follows Russian military aircraft flying over international waters over the Baltic Sea between the Russian mainland and the Kaliningrad enclave. The Russian jets often fly without filing a flight plan.
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While NATO has been trying to build relations with Russia for over two decades, member states remain sceptical about a peaceful alliance.
Cooperation with the country has effectively halted since 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, which the international organisation views as unlawful.
Tensions spiked in the early spring due to a buildup of Russian troops presence near Ukraine’s border despite Moscow dismissing it as military exercises.
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