Russian helicopter flies in Estonian airspace without permission

Mil Mi-8 Russian military helicopter (photo is illustrative).
Mil Mi-8 Russian military helicopter (photo is illustrative). Source: SCANPIX/REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

A Mil Mi-8 Russian Border Guard helicopter entered Estonian airspace without permission on Saturday night (June 18), the Ministry of Defense said.

The aircraft flew above the Koidula region of ​​south-eastern Estonia, which borders Russia, for approximately 2 minutes, the ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

A flight plan was not filed, the transponder was switched off and two-way radio communication was not established with Estonian air traffic control.

Russia's Ambassador to Estonia Vladimir Lipaev was summoned by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and handed a note on Saturday.

"Estonia considers this an extremely serious and regrettable incident that undoubtedly causes additional tensions and is completely unacceptable," the MFA said in a statement released on Tuesday.

This is the second time in 2022 that Russian aircraft have breached Estonia's airspace. Last year, there were five such incidents.

While this is a rare event in Estonia, Lithuania's Ministry of Defense reports that Russian military aircraft fly close to the country's airspace every week, usually without pre-filed flight plans and switched off transponders. Last week there were eight violations and 13 the week before.

Last month, Russia also briefly flew a helicopter in Finnish airspace.

Editor's note: This article was corrected to clarify the helicopter belonged to the Russian border guard.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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