Italian Air Force scrambles to intercept four Russian fighter jets in Swedish airspace

WORLD

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The Italian Air Force said it was called for an immediate take off to police the Polish and Swedish airspace after intercepting Russian jets in the area. Announcing the move, they tweeted: “Another immediate take-off for the #ItalianAirForce #Eurofighters engaged in Air Policing activities in Poland to intercept 4 Russian fighters after they had entered first Polish then Swedish airspace, before being forced to return to Kaliningrad airspace.”

It comes as President Vladimir Putin formally incorporated four Ukrainian regions into Russia on Wednesday even as his forces retreated within them, while Moscow stepped up its energy war with Europe by further cutting gas supplies.

Pushing ahead with Europe’s biggest annexation since World War Two, Putin signed off on a law annexing the new territory, which represents up to 18 percent of Ukraine, some of which Moscow’s forces do not control.

If Crimea is added, which Russia annexed in 2014, Moscow is laying claim to 22 percent of Ukraine, though it has yet to spell out where all of the borders will be located and its own troops have been forced to retreat on two fronts.

The Russian leader’s signature was the final stage in the legal process to annex Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south.

A map published by the state RIA news agency suggested Russia wants big chunks of Ukraine under the control of the Ukrainian army which has been rapidly advancing in the east, and which this week made a breakthrough in the south too.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday night that his military had taken back dozens of towns in regions in the south and east that Russia has declared annexed.

Reuters could not independently verify his statements.

Zelensky said: “This week alone, since the Russian pseudo-referendum, dozens of population centres have been liberated. These are in Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions altogether.” 

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