Wednesday’s flyby of two Russian bombers close to the Icelandic coast should be taken seriously, Birgir Ármannsson, head of the Icelandic parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview with Morgunblaðið today.
“This incident is in line with what many NATO countries and other western countries, such as Finland and Sweden, have experienced. The incident should be taken seriously and requires increased NATO preparedness,” he said, adding that the Russians were probably trying to show their might.
However, Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said yesterday that the Icelandic authorities would not formally protest the Russians’ actions by recalling the Icelandic ambassador to Russia but that Iceland would bring up the issue with the Russians, Vísir reports.
Gunnar Bragi said that it is preferable that the Russians notify the Icelandic authorities of their exercises especially because the aircrafts did not send any radar signals and this can pose risks to general aviation in the area.
He stressed though that the fact that the planes were picked up by the airspace surveillance system shows that it is functioning correctly.
As reported yesterday, two Tupolev Tu-95 long-range Russian bombers flew within the NATO surveyed airspace, 26 nautical miles from the Icelandic coastline, on Wednesday.
Russian military planes have reportedly not flown so close to Iceland since the U.S. military left its base in Keflavík, Southwest Iceland, in 2006.
The bombers flew past Iceland twice before flying close to coast of the UK where they were met with British air force fighter jets.
NATO-Russia relations have been under immense strain since the commencement of the Ukraine conflict.
Iceland joined NATO in 1949.