- A Russian Mi-8 helicopter crossed into NATO member Estonia on Saturday, the country said.
- The intrusion came days before a major NATO summit in Madrid, Spain.
- Putin has long viewed NATO as a threat, citing it as a justification for invading Ukraine this year.
Estonia, a NATO country, said a Russian military helicopter briefly crossed its territory last Saturday, suggesting that Russia was further threatening the military bloc and attacking its closest neighbors.
The Estonian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that a Russian Mi-8 helicopter entered the Koidula region without permission for two minutes on Saturday, adding that it was one of several recent air intrusions by Russia.
Kusti Salm, the ministry’s top official, said Russia was “simulating missile attacks on Estonia” with the threat to the country at an all-time high, Sky News reported.
The helicopter intrusion into Estonia comes days before a major NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, to be held on June 29.
NATO members are expected to discuss how the bloc can be strengthened in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long demonstrated that NATO expansion poses a threat to the Russian national threat and used it as a justification for invading Ukraine earlier this year.
In May, Russia’s neighbor Finland, which applied to join NATO that month in light of Russia’s invasion, said a Russian Mi-17 helicopter entered its airspace, though the Nordic country said it was not a serious provocation.
Estonia’s intrusion comes as Russia also threatens Lithuania, another of its neighbors.
Earlier this week, Lithuania, which is a member of the EU and NATO, refused to allow Russian steel and iron ore materials to pass through its territory to the Russian enclave of the city of Kaliningrad, telling Moscow that it would violate EU sanctions if it did.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the EU banned member states from allowing a wide range of Russian exports, including coal, metals, construction materials and technology products, to enter the bloc.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said the decision to block the goods “will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania.”