Russian aircraft violates Estonian airspace

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An IL-96 airliner. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

A Russian Federation plane passed through Estonian airspace Wednesday. The plane, an Ilyushin Il-96 airliner, was in Estonian airspace for around a minute.

While the aircraft had its transponder switched on and squawking, its crew did not maintain radio contact with Estonian air traffic control, nor had they filed a flight plan ahead of the flight, which occurred close to the uninhabited island of Vaindloo, in the Gulf of Finland.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Estonia Alexander Petrov to protest and present a note on the violation of Estonian airspace yesterday.

Estonia considers this a very regrettable and serious incident, and repeated series of violations of this kind is completely unacceptable, a statement from the ministry said.

Russian military overflights in the Gulf of Finland often fly close to or as in this case inside Estonian airspace – this was the second such violation this year so far, BNS reports.

Another hotspot is the Lithuanian coast, where Russian planes fly close in their regular journeys to and from the Kaliningrad exclave. NATO Baltic Air Policing jets based at Šiauliai are often scrambled to identify, intercept and/or escort planes on these routes.

NATO air policing is also conducted from Ämari, west of Tallinn; the role is now in the hands of the Italian Air Force and their Lockheed Martin Lightning-II stealth fighters.

Vaindloo island in the Gulf of Finland. Source: Google maps

Editor's note: This article was updated to add additional information about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoning the Russian ambassador.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright

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