NATO says its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in a period of approximately 24 hours between October 28 and 29.
A spokesperson stressed that NATO airspace had not been violated, but added that such high numbers of sorties in a short space of time were rare.
“These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” an official from the alliance said.
New Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke from Athens.
“We are not in a Cold War situation, but the behaviour of Russia has undermined a lot of trust and has rolled back very much what we have tried to create as a more cooperative and constructive relationship between Russia and NATO ever since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he said.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Russian bombers or jets were tracked over the Norwegian, North, Black and Baltic Seas, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.
NATO described it as an ‘unusual burst of activity’, particularly during the Ukraine crisis, when East-West relations are strained.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t seem concerned about the exercises, saying:
“In the last few months, there has been a lot of activity in terms of Russian army exercises, but I am not acutely worried that a serious violation of airspace is taking place.”
To date in 2014, 100 such checks on Russian aircraft have been made, NATO says. This is three times as many as in 2013, before relations with Moscow turned sour.