Helicopters involved in the incident at Belarus border
The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus announced that a breach of Belarusian airspace was attempted by eight air balloons with “anti-state symbols”. The attempt was stopped by Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters of the country's Air Force.
“On August 23, 19.30 the Air Force and Defence Force prevented a provocation from the side of the Republic of Lithuania in the region of village Volkovschina, Oshmyansky region. A probe, consisting of eight air balloons with anti-state symbols was launched from the neighbouring territory. Thanks to resolute actions of Mi-24 helicopter pilots of Air Defence forces on duty, the flight of air balloons was stopped without employing weapons,” a statement of the Ministry says.
According to the statement, the Ministry is collecting all necessary evidence to issue a protest note to the Lithuanian side.
When contacted by AeroTime News about the details of the interception, the press service of the Ministry of Defence has declined to comment.
The same day, Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Belarusian Mi-24 helicopters breached into Lithuania’s airspace near Medininkai on August 23, 2020, at 18.50 p.m. The Belarusian ambassador was summoned and handed a protest note regarding the incident.
As for the “probe” intercepted by Belarusian helicopters, it was likely some commercially-available party balloons launched during a “Freedom Way” demonstration, organized by several prominent Lithuanian public figures with the aim of supporting the long-running anti-regime demonstrations in Belarus. According to the organizers, over 50,000 people joined a human chain between the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and the Belarusian border.
The “probe” itself was captured by the participants of the demonstration, likely, still in Lithuanian airspace:
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