Russia apologises for violating Finnish airspace

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Ilyushin Il-76

Russia has admitted to and apologised for a violation of Finland's airspace with a strategic airlifter last week.

A Russian Ilyushin Il-76 cargo jet spent around three minutes in Finnish airspace near Porvoo, penetrating about 4.5 kilometers into restricted airspace on September 14.

Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen responded to the incident by saying that such violations must not happen, and demanding an explanation from Russia.

According to discussions on Thursday between Alexander Rumyantsev, Russian ambassador to Finland, and Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, the incident was fully investigated by Russia. Russia has described it as an accident, and says that the conclusion of their investigations was that the incursion occurred because of a breakdown in communication between the crew of the Il-76 and air traffic control. This was caused by technical problems.

Russia has proposed expert talks with Finland and Estonia to attempt to prevent future incidents of this nature. Kanerva has expressed his satisfaction with the explanation and approval of the idea of specialist discussions.