A Russian maritime spy plane flew into Estonian territory on Tuesday in the most serious violation of Nato airspace by Moscow since the end of the cold war.Fighters were scrambled from Lithuania – where Nato’s Baltic air policing force is stationed – and from Denmark and Sweden as the aircraft, an Ilyushin 20 “Coot”, armed with an array of high-tech surveillance and electronic warfare equipment, circled the Baltic sea.
The jet responsible for the Estonian incursion isn’t even the only Russian vehicle risking an international incident. The Finnish Environment Institute announced this week that over the summer the Russian Navy interfered several times with one of its research vessels in international waters. Reuters reports:
The institute said its research vessel, which is used for monitoring the Baltic Sea, was heading to take samples from a routine location near Sweden in August when a Russian naval vessel told it twice via radio to change course.It obeyed the first but ignored the second request, and later noticed a submarine nearby.
All of this is comes as a days-long Swedish search operation for a supposed Russian submarine was called off, with Swedish authorities announcing that they suspect the submarine has now left their territorial waters.A certain amount of probing along these lines has long been par for the course for Moscow, but the recent uptick in this kind of behavior, from Europe to the Pacific, is happening at a particularly volatile moment in international relations. Putin’s Russia, enraged and emboldened by its easy wins in Ukraine, appears to be dead-set on pushing boundaries until it finally reaches some kind of hard limit. Let’s hope that the limit isn’t revealed as part of some disastrous miscalculation.