INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Aircraft alert cuts short Spanish, Lithuanian leaders’ press conference at Šiauliai air base

Pedro Sánchez is on a three-day tour of the Baltics, where he was meeting with troops when a Eurofighter was urgently sent out due to the presence of at least one Russian plane

The moment when a joint press conference by Spain and Lithuania's leaders gets interrupted.

A joint press conference by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda at Šiauliai air base in Lithuania was cut short on Thursday morning due to the presence of at least one unidentified Russian aircraft within the latter country’s airspace, according to government sources.

Sánchez was at the Lithuanian air base to visit Spanish troops stationed there on a NATO mission. Nausėda was speaking when a group of military officers rushed up and took away both lecterns. Another technician approached a Eurofighter jet situated behind both leaders.

Government sources said that there was a real alert and that the Eurofighter was sent out urgently to communicate with the unidentified Russian aircraft and inform the pilot about the violation of the Baltic republic’s airspace.

The press conference resumed around 25 minutes later.

Military sources believe Russia sparked the alert intentionally due to Sánchez’s visit. No incidents of this type had been recorded in the past 18 days, but they often occur when European authorities visit or when NATO exercises are being carried out. “This is a real case that shows the importance of our presence here,” said Sánchez, when the press conference resumed.

Sánchez is on a three-day tour of the Baltics. After visiting troops at the Šiauliai base, he is expected to travel to the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, to meet with Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. The Spanish leader’s agenda also includes a meeting with Svetlana Tijanovskaya, the main opposition leader of Belarus.

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