Eight Russian military jets with the ability to carry far-reaching bombs, flew off Iceland’s south-southwestern coast yesterday without notifying Icelandic authorities. The jets also flew near Norway and Britain, where they were followed by local military jets.
“I will ask the Russian ambassador in Reykjavík for an explanation,” Grétar Már Sigurdsson, director of Iceland’s Foreign Ministry, told Fréttabladid. “What worries us most is that by not notifying us of their presence, the jets could jeopardize general aviation safety.”
This is the second time in a month that Russian military jets were spotted near Iceland. Russian jets have hardly been spotted near Iceland since the Cold War ended. Three Russian jets circled the country on August 17, also without notification. The Russian embassy has still not explained to the Foreign Ministry what the jets were doing.
“For now it is just a question of communication and trying to find a solution that does not put anyone in danger,” Sigurdsson said, adding the jets did not fly anywhere near the Icelandic airspace, keeping a distance of at least 120 nautical miles.
“They are Tupolev 95 machines, sometimes called the Bear,” Sigurdsson said. “They aren’t new but seem to be in good flying condition. Some were probably made in the 1950s.”
Sigurdsson said this incident showed that Iceland’s relations with its neighboring countries are good. “We benefited from cooperating with our neighbors. Both Norway and Britain were monitoring the jets so we were paying close attention too.”