NATO ally’s airspace tested amid new alleged Russian violation: ISW
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NATO ally’s airspace tested amid new alleged Russian violation: ISW

The Finnish Ministry of Defense said it had launched an investigation based on the allegation that a Russian military plane entered its airspace on Monday morning.

The violation occurred over the Gulf of Finland when the Moscow plane entered Finnish airspace for about two minutes and flew to a depth of about 2.6 miles, Finnish authorities say. The report is Finland’s first complaint against Russia since joining NATO last spring. The two countries share a 1,330-kilometer border in Eastern Europe.

“We take the suspected territorial violation seriously and an investigation has been initiated immediately,” Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Institute for War Studies (ISW), Moscow did not respond to the Helsinki report, although the Russian Defense Ministry said its Tu-95MS aircraft carriers and Tu-22M3 bombers flew over the “neutral waters” of the Baltic, Barents and Norwegian Seas earlier on Monday.

Airspace of a NATO ally tested by Russia: ISW
Russian Tu-160 and Tu-22M3 warplanes fly over Red Square during a military parade in Moscow on June 24, 2020. Finnish officials say a Russian military plane briefly entered its airspace on Monday morning.

Photo: PAVEL GOLOVKIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Image

“This reported incursion likely confirms the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to undermine Finnish sovereignty and territorial integrity,” ISW, a Washington-based think tank, added in an assessment of the war in Ukraine published Monday.

ISW also cited its May 22 war assessment of the Russian Defense Ministry’s proposal to “reassess” maritime boundaries established in 1985 in the Gulf of Finland because they are “based on outdated, small-scale navigational charts.” According to the think tank, some Western officials warned that the proposal was an attempt by Moscow to revise the maritime zones created in the Baltic Sea.

– informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Policy at the time, Russia’s proposal was seen as a “conscious, targeted and escalating provocation intended to intimidate neighboring countries and their societies.” According to ISW, Swedish Commander-in-Chief Mikael Byden also expressed concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to take control of the Baltic Sea.

Also last month, Estonian police and border guards reported that Russian law enforcement had removed part of a floating barrier used to establish a maritime border with Russia on the Narva River. This border was agreed by both countries in 2022 and is established every spring.

ISW said at the time that Russia’s move meant its border guards were “likely trying to create a conflict on the international border between Russia and a NATO member country in order to assess NATO’s response to future Russian efforts to challenge established borders.”

Newsweek on Monday reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense by email for comment.