Belarus attack helicopters srambled to intercept air baloons from Lithuania

Aleh Arlou /
Aleh Arlou /

Belarus' Defence Ministry claimed on Monday it scrambled Mi-24 attack helicopters on August 23 to stop eight air balloons “with anti-state slogans” from entering the country without the use of weapons. The air balloons from Lithuania were a threat to Belarus,  Air Force/Air Defense Deputy Commander Col. Aleh Arlou said commenting for the Belarusian Defense Ministry's press office. 

Arlou pointed to the three aspects of the incident. "Any border of any state is untouchable," Col. Arlou said. Secondly, air balloons could pose a threat to civil aviation flights.

"Thirdly, nobody knows what was on the racks. It could explosives or poisonous substances etc." Col. Arlou said.

Lithuanian Foreign Ministry today said one of the helicopters breached Lithuania's airspace. "The Belarus ambassador in Vilnius was presented with a strict note of protest," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told BNS on Monday. 

Commenting on Lithuania's statement, Col. Arlou said: "Our pilots acted in line with Belarusian and international laws. They operated within Belarusian airspace as confirmed by the live monitoring and recording systems. No violation of the Lithuanian border took place."

According to Linkevičius, the Belarusian helicopter was spotted near Medininkai, a Lithuanian town near the border.

“It was seen visually. We have all the information from our air traffic controllers [confirming] that there has been a violation,” he said.

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