Russia's proposal to the Baltic and Nordic nations to strengthen security in the Baltic Sea region requires all military aircraft to fly with their transponders on, and inform the neighbouring countries of their flight plans, the Russian newspaper Izvestiya reported today.
"Experts believe that this would significantly reduce tensions in the skies over the Baltic Sea, where activity of NATO and Russian military aircraft has increased significantly," noted Izvestiya.
A source informed the newspaper that the initiative was primarily related to aviation.
"Russia is ready to ensure transparency in all Russian aviation flights over the Baltic Sea, but in turn they want NATO countries, as well as Sweden and Finland, to guarantee the same kind of transparency," relayed the newspaper.
Izvestiya also remarked that "Moscow is greatly concerned about British and American reconnaissance planes RC-135 that fly with their transponders turned off."
The newspaper states Russia's suggestion is based on President Vladimir Putin's initiative to prohibit flights over the Baltic Sea with transponders off, which was backed by his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto during Putin's visit to Finland on July 1.
Sergei Koshelov, leader of the Russian Defense Ministry's International Military Co-operation Department, verified that Moscow was ready to talk over security issues in the Baltic Sea region with the defense ministries of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, and Finland, Izvestiya notes.
As reported, Russia has proposed to Latvia to hold consultations on advancing security in the Baltic Sea region and this offer is being considered by NATO, the Foreign Ministry informed LETA earlier this week.
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas announced yesterday that Estonia declined to enter into separate defense-related talks with Russia. Roivas explained that Estonia is unwilling to discuss defense co-operation separately with Russia because these themes concern allied nations as well.