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VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) - A Russian Su-27 fighter bomber crashed in Lithuania Thursday after violating the NATO member's airspace, prompting an investigation, Lithuanian officials said.
The pilot ejected safely before the plane crashed about 120 miles northwest of the capital while flying from St. Petersburg to Russia's Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, the Defense Ministry said.
Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said the prosecutor general's office had begun an investigation, but added he believed the airspace violation was not intentional.
Russian officials gave conflicting reports of why the jet had entered Lithuanian airspace.
A Russian Defense Ministry statement said the incident happened as a detachment of air force planes flew to the enclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland. Kaliningrad is home to a major Russian military base.
In May, Finland complained that Russian military aircraft had repeatedly violated its airspace for several months. The violations allegedly took place over the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea as the fighter jets flew to and from Kaliningrad.
Similar alleged violations by Russian planes have been reported in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In November, the Estonian government filed an official complaint with Moscow, but said none was serious enough to merit intervention by the four NATO fighters that patrol the Baltics' airspace.
IMHO, it appears to be 'a' typical Russian provocation towards some of its former republics/provinces.