Russian government fleet aircraft suspected of violating Finnish airspace

The Finnish government says Russian governmental aircraft flew through Finnish airspace, marking the first violation of Finnish territory this year. 

“A Russian state aircraft is suspected of violating Finnish airspace off Porvoo in the Gulf of Finland on the morning of April 8, 2022. The duration of the suspected airspace violation was three minutes and the aircraft that committed the suspected violation was of the Il-96-300 type,” according to a press release from the Finnish Ministry of Defense.  

This was followed by a cyberattack on Finland’s governmental websites, the Ministry said, which resulted in certain websites being inaccessible for some time. Both events took place as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was giving a webcast speech to the Finnish parliament, Bloomberg reports. 

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, Finland has expressed an increased interest in joining NATO, with the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin saying that the country could join the alliance as soon as spring 2022.  

The Special Flight Detachment Rossiya is tasked with transporting Russian governmental officials and operates a wide variety of aircraft, including at least 10 Il-96 long-range wide-body airliners of various variants. 

According to the flight tracking service Flightradar24, an Ilyushin Il-96-300 (reg. RA-96014) of Russia’s Special Flight Detachment Rossiya flew over the Gulf of Finland on its way from Berlin on April 8, 2022. At approximately 10:40 UTC the aircraft came close to the Finnish border in the vicinity of Porvoo. However, the service does not show it crossing the airspace border. Other flight tracking services, such as ADSB Exchange and Radarbox show the same flightpath. 

However, this does not discredit Finland’s claim, as the services display data sent by the aircraft’s ADS-B transponder, which can provide incorrect coordinates or be manipulated. 

AeroTime has reached out to the Finnish Ministry of Defense for comment. 

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