Two Russian aircraft violate Estonian airspace near Vaindloo island ({{commentsTotal}})

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IL-96 plane of the Russian presidential administration's airline.
IL-96 plane of the Russian presidential administration's airline. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

Two Russian aircraft violated Estonian airspace near the Gulf of Finland island of Vaindloo within an hour of each other on Monday morning. According to daily Postimees, one of the aircraft may have been carrying Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An Airbus A319 and an Ilyushin IL-96 aircraft belonging to the Russian state entered Estonian airspace near the island of Vaindloo without permission on Monday, spokespeople at the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) told BNS. The two aircraft spent less than a minute in Estonian airspace.

The planes' transponders were turned on, but they had not presented a flight plan. The aircraft also had no radio contact with Estonian Air Navigation Services.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday summoned a representative of the Russian Embassy and handed them a diplomatic note.

Paper: Putin may have been on one of the planes

According to daily Postimees, as both aircraft are part of the Russian state fleet, they are used to transport only top-level Russian leaders. "We do not know who may have been on board, but I can say that the Russian leadership is flown with that aircraft," EDF spokesperson Arvo Jõesalu told the paper.

Postiimees pointed out that the aircraft registration number of the IL-96 which brought Putin to Helsinki for the Monday's summit was RA-96022, which matched that of the aircraft which real-time flight radar websites showed violating Estonian airspace.

Üllar Salumäe, board member of Estonian Air Navigation Services, however, told BNS on Monday that according to his information, Putin's aircraft did not pass through Estonian airspace that day.

"As far as I know, the aircraft connected with Putin's visit flew along routes leading directly from Russian Federation to Republic of Finland airspace," Salumäe added.

Not the first airspace violations this year

Russian aircraft have made unauthorized incursions into Estonian airspace on six occasions so far this year, including on two occasions last week.

Last Thursday, an Ilyushin IL-96 aircraft belonging to Russia entered Estonian airspace near the island of Vaindloo without permission, spending less than a minute in Estonian airspace. The plane's transponder was turned on, but it had not presented a flight plan, and the aircraft had no radio contact with Estonian Air Navigation Services.

Last Tuesday, an Ilyushin IL-96 belonging to Russia entered Estonian airspace near the island of Vaindloo without permission and spent less than a minute in Estonian airspace under similar circumstances.

Following both airspace violations, the Foreign Ministry summmoned the Russian ambassador and handed him a diplomatic note.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS



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