Russia is currently conducting military exercises with simulated missile attacks against Estonia, the Baltic nation said, warning of escalating tensions between a Moscow and a front-line NATO member.
Estonia’s Defense Ministry said that provocative behavior has intensified on Estonia’s border with Russia ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s summit scheduled for next week in Madrid, according to a response to emailed questions on Tuesday.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador in Tallinn, saying that a border patrol helicopter flew into Estonian airspace for two minutes on June 18, the first such instance since President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.
Estonia didn’t explain how it knew of the simulations, although Russia has made NATO countries the subject of military exercises in the past.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry referred questions to the Defense Ministry, whose spokesman Igor Konashenkov didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also didn’t reply.
Russia announced Tuesday that ships from its Baltic Fleet will carry out large-scale maneuvers in the Gulf of Finland including mine-laying, artillery firing and anti-submarine drills, the Interfax news service reported.
The exercises will take place as Russian naval vessels travel from the Baltiysk base in the Kaliningrad region to Kronstadt near St. Petersburg along a route that runs past the three Baltic states, following 10 days of military exercises that ended on June 19.
Estonia and Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Latvia have been among the most vocal advocates of a stronger response to Russian Putin’s war on Ukraine.
Host to several thousand troops from fellow NATO members, they have repeatedly reported Russian aircraft in their airspace.