Estonian authorities say they have seen no significant improvements in conduct and adherence to international principles by Russian military aircraft recently, despite claims by the Russian Federation that its planes how have functioning transponders switched on and maintain contact with regional air traffic controllers when making Baltic Sea overflights.
Russian foreign ministry official Sergei Belyaev said in a recent interview with news agency RIA Novosti [sic] that the country's air force has altered its routes and altitudes to improve safety, in line with a 2017 agreement, and keeps in radio contact with air traffic controllers, according to daily Postimees.
However, Lt. Taavi Laasik from the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) press department told the daily that it has not received any official information to that end from its Russian counterparts, adding that here has been no evidence of improved practices with regard to transponders, radio contact or flight plans.
"The EDF has also not noticed that Russian military aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea have started flying with transponders turned on more [frequently], nor have they submitted more flight plans or had more radio communication with civilian air traffic controllers within the Tallinn flight information region," Laasik said.
At the same time, a higher level of all three deficiencies has been recorded in 2019, compared with the previous year, it is reported.
Russian military planes are frequently intercepted and escorted by NATO jets on Baltic air policing duties and often don't follow international practices noted above, primarily flying to and from the Russian Kaliningrad exclave, with the NATO planes flying from Šiauliai in Lithuania. In recent months, Russian planes have violated Estonian airspace as well, primarily close to the uninhabited island of Vaindloo, in the Gulf of Finland.
Editor: Andrew Whyte