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Finland suspects Russian airspace violation

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HELSINKI (AP) — Finland's Defense Ministry said it suspects a Russian military aircraft on Thursday violated Finnish airspace — the third such incident in six days.

Ministry spokesman Max Arhippainen told The Associated Press that a Russian AN-72 transport plane is believed to have crossed into the Nordic country's airspace over the Gulf of Finland for a few minutes.

Defense Minister Carl Haglund condemned the infraction, and said that Finland had demanded an explanation from Moscow.

"Unfortunately, we have no information to indicate that all these (violations) were accidental," Haglund told reporters in Helsinki. "As adequate explanations have not been forthcoming it would appear that a degree of intentionality was involved."

Haglund said that a Finnish Hornet jet was dispatched to intercept the Russian aircraft, but he gave no details.

Finland reported similar incidents with Russian aircraft on Saturday and Monday.

Border officials said the first was likely because of a maneuver to avoid a thunderstorm and the other two were still being investigated. He said that normally there are about four to six incidents a year of foreign aircraft entering Finnish airspace without permission.

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