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.”
There was no danger to either Prime Minister Sanchez or President Nauseda, the Lithuanian president’s spokesman said.
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