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Sat, 30 Aug, 2014 12:01:03 AM
Hornet fighter jets transferred to southern Finland
Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee meets president
FTimes-STT Report, August 30
 
 
Defence Minister Carl Haglund told the news agency STT that fighter jets and pilots will have more tasks at hand than is normal.
 
The minister said the fighters will be engaged more actively in identifying planes which are approaching the Finnish airspace or planes which are flying through the international airspace near Finland.
 
The Defence Forces have also transferred the Hornet fighters to southern Finland, including the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
 
Mika Kalliomaa, head of Defence Forces communication, said airspace surveillance is now focused on the Gulf of Finland.
 
File picture of Hornet fighter. Photo Lehtikuva.
He said the fighters have been moved to bases shorter flight-time away from the southern sea areas.
 
According to Haglund, this is not a matter of military preparedness which would indicate that Finland’s security is threatened.
 
A Russian Antonov AN-72 transport aircraft is suspected to have trespassed into the Finnish airspace on Thursday. It has brought the number of suspected airspace violations by Russia to three within a week.
 
Prior to this incident, another violation by a suspected Russian plane took place on Monday near Porvoo and another one on Saturday west of Hanko Peninsula.
 
On Wednesday, the Finnish Border Guard said thunderstorm and neglect were the possible reasons for Saturday’s violation.
 
The Border Guard also confirmed that a Russian Air Force plane violated the Finnish airspace for a brief while shortly before 7:00 pm over the Kemiönsaari southern sea area.
 
Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee led by Chairman Timo Soini (middle.) returns after holding meeting with President Sauli Niinistö in on Friday. Photo Lehtikuva
The Finnish air traffic control contacted the aircraft before it trespassed into the Finnish airspace. The aircraft was informed that it had no permission to enter the Finnish airspace, but it did not respond to the directive.
 
Earlier, the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee met with the president at the Mäntyniemi residence to discuss the violations of the Finnish airspace, among other issues.
 
The committee chair, Timo Soini, said he regarded the situation as very serious. Three such incidents in a week’s time raise a question whether it part of a bigger strategy.
 
The committee also discussed the Ukraine crisis and the situation in Russia.
 
Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, meanwhile, avoided “over-dramatising” the airspace violations by Russia, but, nonetheless, said the issue has to be dealt with.
 
According to the premier, the issue will be discussed with Russia once all the incidents are analysed.
 
 
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