Estonia files protest over alleged Russian air violation

HELSINKI (AP) — Estonia filed a protest with Moscow after a Russian aircraft allegedly violated the air space of the NATO ally and European Union member nation for the second time this year, the small Baltic nation’s military said Thursday.

An IL-96 plane belonging to Russia spent about one minute in Estonian airspace on Wednesday near the Baltic Sea island of Vaindloo, the military said.

The Russian plane’s transponder was on but the crew did not present a flight plan, according to Estonian authorities. The aircraft also failed to maintain radio contact with Estonian Air Navigation Services, the military said.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Petrov was summoned to the Estonian Foreign Ministry and officials presented him with a note about the alleged violation, calling it “a serious incident.” They said the repeated occurrence of such air space breaches were in “no way acceptable.”

Vaindloo, a small island that belongs to Estonia, is near a corridor where Russian planes – both civilian and military – fly from the St. Petersburg area to Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave located between Poland and Lithuania.

Estonia recorded several air violations by Russian planes around Vaindloo in past years and made repeated protests to Moscow.

Relations between Estonia and neighboring Russia have remained icy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The two countries have yet to ratify a border treaty nearly 30 years after Estonia, a former Soviet republic, regained its independence.

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