2014-10-24 09:43:00

NATO intercepts Russian plane

(Vatican Radio) Estonia has summoned Russia's ambassador after a Russian spy plane allegedly entered its airspace before being intercepted by fighter jets of the NATO military alliance. Tuesday's incident was seen as one of the most serious violations of NATO airspace by Moscow since the end of the Cold War.

Listen to this report by Stefan Bos

Military officials said the Russian maritime plane flew into Estonia's territory, sparking a potential dangerous confrontation with NATO. Fighter planes were reportedly scrambled from Lithuania, where NATO's Baltic air policing force is stationed, as well as from Denmark and Sweden. 

NATO said they rushed "to intercept" the Russian Ilyushin-20 aircraft, which circled the Baltic Sea, armed with high-tech surveillance and electronic warfare equipment. 

Estonia claimed the Russian plane entered its airspace for about a minute, flying near the inhabited islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa. 

But Russia said the plane was on a training mission and had not violated Estonian airspace.

These latest tensions came amid a standoff with Russia over ongoing battles in Ukraine. 

The West has accused Russia of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons. 

That prompted NATO to boost its presence in other former Soviet satellite states such as the Baltics and Poland. 

Moscow denied active involvement in the conflict. 

Yet reporters have discovered at least two destroyed Russian tanks following a recent battle around Horbatenko near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. 

At least one of the tanks was not known to have been exported, supporting claims by Kiev and the West that separatists were backed by troops, and equipment, sent by Moscow.

And Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has warned of possible attempts by Russia to disrupt Sunday’s parliamentary elections. He ordered a full security mobilisation to prevent in his words "terrorist acts”. 



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