Date: Issue 127 - December 2023

In the heart of Europe, on the coast of the Baltic Sea, between NATO and EU members Poland and Lithuania, there is a small piece of land of 223 km2 called Kaliningrad. This strategically important region is Russian territory. Kaliningrad Oblast, which has no land connection with Russia, is 370 km away from its homeland at the closest point. Of course, since there is no possibility of connection by land, both military and civilian transportation to this Oblast can only be provided by sea and air. As you can see, Russian jets generally do not use transponders, do not communicate with Air Traffic Control or prepare a flight plan when entering and leaving this region, which is surrounded by NATO and European airspace. This is where the demanding prevention activities that make up a large part of the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) Mission begin. In short, the most basic aim is to prevent Russian jets from flying in this region by waving their arms.

BAP is the result of agreements made to achieve a single standard of security in NATO/EU airspace for NATO member states that do not have the necessary air capabilities. Since the three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which joined NATO on 29 March 2004, do not have the necessary air assets to contribute to NATO Air Command on their own soil, Alliance members provide protection to these countries through the Baltic Air Policing.