VILNIUS, June 16. /TASS/. The Russian military planes that presumably intruded into the Lithuanian airspace closely followed NATO’s Baltops 2021 drills in the region, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters on Wednesday.
"I believe that the Russian side shows special interest in these drills," the Lithuanian defense chief said, adding that this interest was normal practice among the militaries.
"Aircraft carry out surveillance of other aircraft and warships watch other naval ships, although the Russian side sometimes uses this for aggressive actions and attack imitations," he alleged.
Baltops are NATO’s largest naval maneuvers in the Baltic Sea. They have been held annually in May-June since 1971. The drills are organized by the US Naval Forces Command in Europe.
Spokesman for the Lithuanian Army Gintautas Ciunis told the BNS news agency earlier on Wednesday that two Russian military planes had presumably violated the republic’s airspace over the territorial waters in the Baltic Sea at about 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday. He claimed that the Russian military aircraft stayed in the Lithuanian airspace for about a minute.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry summoned a representative of the Russian embassy in the Baltic republic to express its protest over the alleged airspace violation. The Russian embassy in Vilnius confirmed to TASS that its diplomat had been summoned to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and handed in a diplomatic note.