Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius says that the agreement to switch on transponders in warplanes above the Baltic Sea will not solve safety issues, if Russian fighter-jets continue performing their dangerous manoeuvres.

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Linas Linkevičius
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Linkevičius spoke in comment of the statement issued by Russia's Defence Ministry about Moscow's readiness for consultations with Lithuania and other countries in the Baltic Sea region about keeping automatic transponders on during military aviation flights above the Baltic Sea.

Lithuania and NATO Allies will consider the Russian proposal, but it should be judged by specific actions, not words, just like other promises and invitations from Russia, said the Lithuanian diplomacy chief.

"Russia has lately made virtually no contribution to reinforcing the measures of military trust," the minister told BNS.

In his words, Russia unilaterally stopped its membership in the Conventional Forces Europe treaty in 2007 and last year unilaterally suspended the bilateral 2001 Lithuanian-Russian pact on additional measures to boost confidence and safety.

"Russia refused to launch a hotline between border posts for unauthorized aircraft flights. My proposal to do this came back in 2002 to my then counterpart, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov. Even when the Russian Su-27 fighter-jet crashed under vague circumstances in Lithuania in 2005, the requests were never satisfied," Linkevičius added.

"Although Russia maintains it is willing to consider risks constituted by dangerous military activities, please note that it is the Russian actions that cause the risk, it is Russia that holds manoeuvres of fighter-jets close to NATO warships in the Baltic Sea on a regular basis, also threatening civilian flights. Therefore, automatic transponders alone will not solve the safety issues, if Russian pilots continue ignoring safe aviation recommendations, act in an irresponsible and provocative manner," he noted.

Russia claims to have invited NATO experts to Moscow for joint preparation of instruments for implementation of the Finnish president's initiative. Finland's President Sauli Niinisto has suggested an agreement to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that warplanes should have their automatic transponders on during flights above the Baltic Sea at all times.

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