A Lithuanian military ship responded on Thursday morning to the interference of a Russian military ship in Lithuania’s economic zone, Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence said on Friday.
The ministry’s Public Relations Department told BNS the Lithuanian Navy received radio information on Thursday morning that a Russian military ship in Lithuania’s economic zone in the Baltic Sea was ordering civilian ships in the area to change their course due to a shooting training event held by Russia.
A Lithuanian military ship Sūduvis was sent the Lithuanian economic zone, identified the Russian military corvette as well as another Russian ship, a destroyer, and came into radio contact with the latter.
Sergeant Audrius Vitkauskas of the Lithuanian Navy told BNS that after the Sūduvis arrived, the Russian ship stopped redirecting other ships. “The incident was reported at around 9 a.m. Our ship Sūduvis was at the scene before 11 a.m. The Sūduvis was also warned that it’s a dangerous area as missile shootings are taking place but was not directed out of the area and there was no information that other ships were redirected as well,” Vitkauskas told BNS on Friday.
In his words, the Russian ship entered around 1.5 nautical miles (around 2.8 km) into the Lithuanian special economic zone. The incident took place in the western part of Lithuania’s special economic zone.
“It is Lithuania’s special economic zone and usually foreign military ships cannot freely regulate the movement of other ships in another country’s special economic zone,” Vitkauskas told BNS, adding that it was not the first incident of this kind but similar incidents take place rarely.
Representatives of the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence also told BNS that, in addition, a MI-8 helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force was sent to Lithuania’s special economic zone for inspection and data collection.
“Foreign ships, including military ships, are allowed to cross Lithuania’s special economic zone but they must properly take into account the rights and duties of the coastal state and not to restrict the rights of the coastal state in the special economic zone,” the Ministry of National Defence told BNS.