NAANTALI /Finland/, July 1. /TASS/. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has suggested at the talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the two countries should agree on flight rules over the Baltic region to ensure their safety.
"We are well aware that there is certain fear of Russia in the Baltic countries, just as NATO is considered a threat in Russia. It is necessary to make small steps to strengthen confidence," Niinisto told a joint news conference of the two leaders on Friday.
"Efforts aimed at avoiding the situation that can inflict harm could be a small step. For example, these are flights with transponders turned off. I suggested that we together agree that transponders are used all the time during flights in the Baltic region," the Finnish president said.
Russia has supported Finland’s initiative to ban flights over the Baltic Sea with transponders switched off.
"We share the Finnish president’s initiative. Moreover, upon arrival in Moscow I will issue instructions to the Russian foreign and defense ministries to raise this issue at the upcoming session of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels due to take place after a NATO summit in Warsaw," Putin said.
The Russian president said that special attention at the talks was focused on issues of security in the Baltic Sea. "President Niinisto drew my attention to the incidents taking place in that region and to the situation that has formed around the Baltic Sea," Putin said. "We came up with an initiative to elaborate a system of measures of trust to enhance security in the Baktic Sea region."
The Russian leader noted that not only Russian aircraft are flying over the Baltic Sea with their transponders off. NATO planes, in his words, do exactly the same. "The number of flights of NATO countries’ aircraft in this regime is twice as big as that of Russia’s," he said. "This is not our fantasy, it is statistics."