Two Russian fighter jets are suspected of violating Finnish airspace off the coast of Helsinki on Tuesday, the Finnish Defense Ministry said.
The incident «occurred over the Gulf of Finland near Helsinki at around 2:00 p.m. Finnish time (11:00 GMT)» and the border surveillance authority has opened an investigation to confirm the violation, the ministry said in a press release.
Two Sukhoi SU-27 jets «flew in Finnish airspace for about two minutes,» according to Niina Hyrsky, the ministry’s communications director, who told AFP that Finland had scrambled planes to identify them.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied the alleged violation, saying its SU-27 jets flew from the republic of Karelia to the Kaliningrad region in accordance with international airspace rules.
Russian military aircraft regularly cross the Gulf of Finland to link the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, between Lithuania and Poland.
Finland, part of the Russian empire between 1809 and 1917, fought twice with the U.S.S.R. during the Second World War — first as an independent nation and then as an ally of the Germans — before changing sides in 1944 to fight against the Nazis.
Finland has been neutral or militarily non-aligned since 1955 and is not a member of NATO. It is, however, associated with the Atlantic alliance through various cooperation programs.
Trump Ad Supporting U.S. Troops Shows Russian Fighter Jets, Rifles
A campaign fundraising ad for U.S. President Donald Trump aimed at rallying support for the country’s troops actually displays Russian-made military equipment, Politico reported Monday.
The digital “Support Our Troops” campaign that ran between Sept. 8-12 shows the silhouettes of three soldiers as fighter jets fly overhead.
“That’s definitely a Russian MiG-29,” defense analyst Pierre Sprey, who assisted the U.S. Air Force with fighter aircraft design, told Politico. “I’m glad to see it’s supporting our troops.”
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, confirmed to Politico that the jets are MiG-29s, adding that one of the soldiers in the photo is carrying an AK-47 assault rifle.
The ad, produced by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, uses a stock photo from Shutterstock.com, where it was uploaded by an Andorra-based user, Politico noted.
The image’s creator, Arthur Zakirov, later told Politico that his creation shows a 3D model of a MiG-29 and that the soldiers were Russian models.
“Today you hear about the Kremlin’s hand in U.S. politics. Tomorrow you are this hand,” Zakirov joked.
The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, which both operate the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, did not comment on Politico’s report.