Two airspace violations within five hours

  • 2004-11-25
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - Two Russian military aircraft illegally entered Estonian airspace within five hours of each other on Nov. 20. A Russian An-26 aircraft that, according to its flight plan, was en route to Kaliningrad, entered Estonia's airspace near the Gulf of Finland's Vaindloo Island for one minute at 6:14 p.m., Estonian defense spokespeople told the Baltic News Service.

The jet entered Estonian air at about half a nautical mile, less than five hours after a Russian An-72 military transport aircraft - also en route to Kaliningrad - broke into Estonian airspace near the same island at 1:20 p.m. Estonia's air sovereignty center at Amari recorded both entries.

"No An-72 planes belonging to the Russian air force flew in that region on Friday. An Il-76 cargo plane performed one flight to Kaliningrad that day, and it did not violate Estonia's airspace, but strictly followed its route," chief of the Russian air force press service Col. Alexander Drobyshev-sky told the Interfax news agency.

However, Estonian military spokespeople said that, while a Russian Il-76 had flown in the direction of Kaliningrad, two additional planes did, in fact, enter the country's airspace without permission. The Foreign Ministry has been notified of both incidents, and a spokesperson announced that details would be clarified over the weekend.

An An-26 is a twin-turboprop military transport aircraft with a length of 23.8 meters and a wingspan of 29.2 meters. It has been used for surveillance purposes.

A Russian An-30 aircraft previously entered Estonian air near Vaindloo on Aug. 2, adding to a growing list of violations by the country this year. The small island of Vaindloo, situated some 26 kilometers off the coast in the Gulf of Finland, is Estonia's northernmost point. The Estonian border runs near the island in the shape of a triangle, the protruding part being the area crossed by Russian aircraft.