Russia’s President Vladimir Putin showed up to his summit with Donald Trump an hour late, as 45 waited like an anxious bride. This was meant to send a signal to POTUS that the Russian leader was top dog. It looks as if Putin sent another not-so-subtle message.
Russia’s president racked up another victory before his plane ever landed. He crossed into Estonia’s airspace without permission. The little country is located at the far northeastern edge of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) protective boundary.
Spokesperson for the Estonian military, Roland Murof, said that Putin was sending a message, The New York Times reported:
‘It’s a long pattern that we’ve monitored throughout the years. Events yesterday just showed on what level they were willing to carry this.’
Putin has often sent his military planes into NATO airspace over Estonia. He has done it merely to taunt the small, vulnerable country and the NATO alliance’s air defense systems. It seems, Trump was not the only bully at the Helsinki, Poland meeting.
Murof noted that the Russian president’s invasion was “characteristic:”
‘Most of these air border violations happen for only a minute, or two minutes maximum. Yesterday’s event is characteristic of Russia’s behavior.’
The Estonian officials tracked Putin’s plane across its airspace and released a statement saying:
‘Mr. Putin’s Ilyushin-96 airplane, en route from Moscow to Helsinki, Finland’s capital, passed through NATO airspace for about 50 seconds on Monday morning, said Roland Murof, a spokesman for the Estonian military. The plane crossed about 1.5 nautical miles, or 1.7 miles, into Estonian territory.’
Putin’s plane did not try to hide its blatant intrusion upon NATO airspace and even left its transponder (radio tracking signal) on. The jet did not file a flight plan nor contact Estonia’s air traffic control, but both are necessary for both civilian and military planes.
These border violations in the air last less than a minute. That was what Putin did prior to his meeting with Trump.
Murof indicated that two Russian jets, including Putin’s, both crossed into his country’s airspace on their way to Helsinki. They did not know which plane carried Russia’s president.
Russian military and government planes often violate Estonian airspace near one of its islands, Vaindloo. According to the New York Times, this is a “hot spot in the aerial games of chicken between Russia and NATO.”
Murof said that Russian jets intrude its airspace about once every two months. The illegal crossings “go up when something political is going on” and are meant to send a message.
NATO pilots intercepting Russian planes have the option of setting off flares and moving into a roll to display their weapons. Yet, they do not fire.
To do so, would risk war with the stubborn country over a minor intrusion. Russian military planes have been trespassing over Estonian airspace more than a decade.
The Estonian military spokesman said that the tactic might have been Putin’s opening statement. The New York Times reported he commented:
‘That’s one way of interpreting it, yes.’
Putin increased air intrusions after the 2014 Ukraine crisis. That was when President Barack Obama pointedly gave a speech to reassure nations of NATO’s commitment to a common defense. Trump offered no such assurances.
Featured image is screenshot via YouTube.