|Quoting Prebennorholm (Reply 1):|
When Lithuania allowed Russian military planes to transit over the country between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia, then they also allowed them to accidentally stray off the corridor and crash on Lithuanian soil. There is nothing any NATO fighters can do about that.
Actually, the aircraft were performing the flight over a different corridor. As far as I know, Lithuania has granted no special rights for the Russian military aircraft to cross it's airspace.
The Russian military aircraft flying between mainland Russia and Kaliningrad usually start over the Finnish Gulf, flying west between Finland and Estonia (and occasionally cutting into the airspaces of both countries), then proceeding south along the western borders of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian airspaces and into the Kaliningrad Oblast then.
The aircraft in queston was flying on a southerly heading along the Lithuanian coast when it suddenly turned east, flying over Lithuanian territory, below radar visibility zone, past the base for the Phantoms in Siauliai, almost all the way to Kaunas - which is more than a hundred kilometres from the Lithuanian coast. The fighter made many chaotic moves and finally it crashed. It had spent almost 20 minutes in the Lithuanian airspace before.
As said, it was flying below radar coverage area, and as small cuts into the airspaces of the Baltic countries are a standard and common method of provocation for the Russian Air Force, some people have implied that this was also a provocation. Common sense, of course, rules that version out as the Russian Air Force, already in a miserable situation, would not deliberately crash and expensive aircraft for some stupid small political game.
Yet, the Russian officials have (not surprisingly) told lies about it - at first denying that such even occurred in the first place (it did, though, as the wreckage is right there), then by saying that the aircraft did not carry any weapons (again, it did), then claiming that the Lithuanian PM
has blamed the Russians of deliberately causing the crash (which he has not).
All in all, I'm glad the pilot survived and there were no fatalities on the ground, either.