Both Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard (l) and Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen have made strongly-worded comments about Friday's incident. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix
After a near-collision between a passenger plane operated by Danish airline Cimber and a Russian military aircraft on Friday, both Denmark and Sweden are demanding answers from Russia.
Russia's defence ministry did not deny that the country had a military plane in the area of southern Sweden at the time, but said that it was at a safe distance of more than 70 kilometres from the flight path of the passenger jet.
Danish and Swedish sources have said that it was much closer.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said that Denmark would take up the matter directly with Russia.
“I have decided to call the Russian ambassador in for a conversation in the Foreign Ministry on the very serious situation we had in the airspace over Denmark and Sweden,” Lidegaard told Ritzau.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has also confirmed that Sweden will be talking to Russia about the matter.
Lidegaard said that Denmark hopes to convince Russia to stop its military exercises in the area.
“It is completely unreasonable to put civilian lives in danger in this way. The expectation is naturally that we can convince the Russians that it is too dangerous to carry out so many of these types of flights and that we can stop them,” he said.
The Russian plane was "invisible" at the time of the near-miss, as it was flying without a transponder – an electronic identification device that would have made it visible on the radar of the commercial plane.
Denmark’s defence minister Nicolai Wammen said that Russia needs to be more respectful of international air safety.
“It is dangerous and completely unnecessary that Russian military jets should fly so close to civilian air traffic over the Baltic Sea. The safety of passengers must come first, and Russia needs to respect that,” Wammen said.
Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist has also called the Russians’ actions "downright dangerous".
Friday’s incident marked the second this year of its kind. In March, another SAS plane with 134 passengers was "just seconds" from crashing into a Russian plane, a pilot told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.