Unauthorised Russian aircraft entered NATO airspace near Iceland, according to a statement from the Icelandic Coast Guard. Italian aircraft stationed in Iceland flew from Keflavík Airport on July 3rd to meet the Russian planes.
Russian long-range bombers were were first spotted South of Stokksnes. The aircraft entered NATO airspace but did not report to the Air Traffic Authority and were not using radar equipment.
The bombers were outside of Icelandic airspace, but within NATO airspace prompting a rapid response from Italian aircrew stationed in Iceland. There are currently six Italian F-35 fighter jets in the country, according to the statement.
This is by no means the first time unauthorised Russian jets have entered NATO airspace near Iceland; an almost identical incident occurred in March 2019. Notably, a Russian bomber also flew close to an Icelandic passenger plane in 2016.
Iceland is part of NATO and as it does not have its own military, the country regularly hosts international NATO training exercises. Most recently, British ships, HMS Westminster and HMS Kent operation sailed to Iceland to take part in Operation Dynamic Mongoose. It is unclear if the recent Russian aircraft activity has any connection with the NATO exercise, but such incidents have coincided with NATO exercises in the past.
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