Lithuania says that two Russian military aircraft SU-24 have violated its airspace while flying over the Baltic Sea.
The incident took place on Tuesday morning, the Lithuanian Armed Forces said on Wednesday.
“Two Russian warplanes potentially violated Lithuania’s airspace above the country’s territorial waters in the Baltic Sea at approximately 09:45 yesterday,” Major Gintautas Ciunis, spokesman of the Lithuanian military, told BNS on Wednesday.
“It’s likely that those were two SU-24s,” he added.
According to Ciunis, the Russian aircraft may have spent approximately a minute in the Lithuanian airspace.
Lithuanian officials later confirmed the fact of violation of the country’s airspace.
Later on Wednesday, Lithuania handed a protest note to Russia, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry summoned a representative of the Russian Embassy in order to express protest over the violation of Lithuania’s state border by the two Russian military planes.
“Lithuania requires that the latest incident be explained and all necessary measures taken by Russia to prevent similar incidents in the future,” the press release said.
Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas has said that the alleged violation is linked to BALTOPS, an international NATO exercise currently held in the Baltic Sea.
According to the minister, Russia habitually becomes more proactive in response to increased military activity of NATO allies in the Baltic Sea.
“However, there are different ways to carry out those activities,” Anušauskas said. “If that is military activity related to the observation of the exercise conducted by another country, there is nothing unusual about that.”
“As regards Russia, however, they sometimes use the exercises conducted in our waters for aggressive actions, for instance, for simulating an attack against a ship of the allies, for conducting aggressive flights and so on,” he added.
Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said that Lithuania would like to avoid violations of its airspace on the part of Russia.
“It would certainly be good to avoid those face-offs and it is also obvious that such things do not contribute to regional security, but that’s probably the goal,” she told BNS after the government’s meeting.
BALTOPS, which involves eighteen nations with more than 40 ships, 60 aircraft, and 4,000 personnel, kicked off on June 6 and will end on June 18.