A Russian reconnaissance plane briefly penetrated Swedish airspace on Friday, employees of the Scandinavian country said Saturday, which is studying the possibility of NATO membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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“A Russian AN-30 helicopter violated Swedish airspace on Friday evening,” the Swedish Defense Ministry wrote in a statement, adding that its teams followed up and filmed the entire incident.
“The plane was east of Bornholm (a Danish island in the Baltic Sea) and then headed towards Swedish territory,” the brief statement said.
The Swedish Defense Minister condemned the incursion. “It is absolutely unacceptable to violate Swedish airspace … This act is unprofessional and, given the general security situation, is absolutely inappropriate. Swedish sovereignty must always be respected,” Peter Holtqvist wrote on SVT public television.
“Of course we will protest through diplomatic channels,” he added.
At the beginning of March, four Russian warplanes briefly violated Swedish airspace east of the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Sweden, and its non-alignment, caused a shift in opinion toward a possible NATO candidacy.
A majority of 54% of Swedes would now support NATO membership, according to a survey conducted by the Novus Institute and published on Saturday.
The Nordic country’s ruling Social Democrats expect to reach a decision on a possible NATO nomination by May 24.
In Finland, whose authorities are also considering joining NATO, a Russian government aircraft, IL-96-300, also violated Finnish airspace for three minutes in early April.
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