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Estonia Says Russian Plane Violated Its Airspace Over Baltic

Estonia's military said a Il-76 plane spent about a minute in its airspace. (file photo)

Estonia says a Russian military cargo plane has violated its airspace near Vaindloo Island in the Baltic Sea.

The incident on March 12 was the first alleged airspace violation of Estonia by a Russian plane this year after the Baltic nation reported several similar intrusions in 2017 and 2016.

Estonia's military said the Il-76 plane spent less than a minute in the country's airspace.

It said the aircraft's transponder was switched on and a flight plan had been presented to Estonian authorities, but the plane maintained no radio contact with Estonia's air navigation service.

Estonia's Foreign Ministry handed Russia's ambassador a protest note over the incident, though the Russian Defense Ministry denied violating Estonian airspace.

“The flight was performed in strict compliance with the international rules of the use of airspace. The borders of other states were not violated, which was confirmed by objective monitoring means," the ministry said in a statement.

Vaindloo is near a corridor where Russian military and cargo planes fly to get from the St. Petersburg area to the Russian Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS