Estonia and Lithuania allege that Russian fighter jets have violated their airspace in two separate incidents on Wednesday in what they claim was the fourth case this year, Hungarian news portal Mandiner reports.
The Estonian army said two Russian Su-35S heavy fighter jets had violated the airspace of the Baltic state. Due to the incident, the Russian ambassador to Estonia was summoned to the Estonian foreign ministry, where he was handed an official written protest over the incident. It is known that this is the fourth time this year that Russian aircraft have violated Estonian airspace.
According to Estonian reports, the two fighter jets did not turn on their electronic identification system and did not log a flight plan either. Russian pilots did not contact air traffic control during the airspace violation, which lasted less than a minute.
Moscow, in turn, swiftly responded that there was no intrusion into the Estonian airspace.
“The flight took place strictly in accordance with the set route. During the flight, the planes did not deviate from their route, which is confirmed by air situation data,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement published by official Russian news agency Interfax.
In a separate incident, Lithuania also reported on Wednesday that two Russian planes had entered its airspace unauthorized. The Foreign Ministry in Vilnius also summoned a diplomat from the Russian embassy there to protest against the alleged violation.
According to Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas, the airspace violations may be related to the annual NATO military exercise under the pseudonym BALTOPS, which is currently running in the Baltic Sea until Friday, the local news agency Baltic News Service reported.
“With the BALTOPS exercise ongoing in that region, I imagine that (the Russians) are interested in that (Baltic Sea) area”, Anusauskas told BNS.
As the three small Baltic states do not have war plane fleets of their own, NATO has been providing airspace surveillance for them in the ongoing Baltic Air Policing since 2004.
Title image: An RAF Typhoon escorts a Russian Su-27 flanker over the Baltic in this 2014 file photo. (source: RAF/MOD)