Putin's plane entered NATO airspace without clearance ahead of summit: Estonia

Putin's plane entered NATO airspace without clearance ahead of summit: Estonia
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A plane carrying Russian President Vladimir Putin crossed without authorization into NATO airspace on Monday ahead of his bilateral summit with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE, according to military officials in Estonia.

The New York Times reported on the statement from the Baltic country's military, which claims that Putin’s presidential plane crossed into NATO airspace over the Baltic Sea Monday morning en route to his meeting with Trump. The plane was reportedly in the unauthorized airspace for 50 seconds, in roughly the same spot where Russian military jets have conducted fly-bys on NATO aircraft.


“It’s a long pattern that we’ve monitored throughout the years,” Estonian military spokesman Roland Murof said, according to the Times. “Events yesterday just showed on what level they were willing to carry this." 

The plane reportedly flew with an operational transponder but did not submit a flight plan to Estonian authorities ahead of the diversion into the country's territory, as is required of military and civilian aircraft.

The Kremlin did not respond to a request for clarification from the Times over whether the breach was intentional.

“Most of these air border violations happen for only a minute, or two minutes maximum,” Murof added. “Yesterday’s event is characteristic of Russia’s behavior.”

Trump met with Putin in Helsinki on Monday, where the two discussed poor relations between Russia and the U.S. The meeting came just days after the announcement that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse progressive: Pelosi 'has it right' on impeachment Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna: 'I'm not there yet' on impeachment MORE had indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

The meeting between the two leaders also came after Trump attended a NATO summit in Brussels, where the president lambasted NATO allies for insufficient contributions to the alliance.

During a joint press conference following the summit, Trump told reporters that there was no reason to say Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election, a comment that sparked outrage among U.S. lawmakers. Trump walked the statement back at the White House on Tuesday.