A mysterious Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft, belonging to Russian cargo airline Volga-Dnepr, has landed in Slovakia.
The flight was allowed to proceed even though the European Union and Russia have closed their airspaces to each other following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The event was noted by the flight tracking community, and numerous theories have been raised in response.
A Volga Dnepr Airlines IL-76 has just landed in Bratislava, Slovakia from Moscow. Unknown at the moment is the reason special permission was granted to this flight to overfly prohibited airspace for Russian aircraft. https://t.co/uS40RpKAMU pic.twitter.com/Dysm89M51z
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 1, 2022
The real story proved to be more outlandish than some of the theories. In a press release, Slovakian Ministry of Economy revealed that the flight was permitted to enter EU airspace owing to an exception.
The aircraft carried nuclear fuel for Slovakian power plants between Moscow (DME) and Bratislava (BTS).
“After the gas and oil, the Slovak economy has another energy sector ensured. I am glad that we managed it logistically and I also thank the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Transport for the excellent coordination in dealing with permits,” Slovakian Minister of Economy Richard Sulik said in the release.
Volga-Dnepr’s flight came among several other alleged incursions of Russian aircraft into prohibited airspace.
On February 27, after Canada announced that it was closing its airspace to Russian airlines, Aeroflot Flight SU 111 was accused of flying through Canadian airspace.
Read more: Canadian government says Russian carrier Aeroflot violated its airspace
On February 28, Aeroflot flight SU 7236 was observed crossing into Greek airspace and holding there, before being diverted to Istanbul.
Aeroflot #SU7236 is holding over the Turkish-Greek airspace boundary. Filed flight plan is for Verona. Greek airspace is currently restricted without special clearance for Russian flights. This flight number is non-standard for Aeroflot. https://t.co/HppZFj3SOM pic.twitter.com/VVMSo9dzCC
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) February 28, 2022