QCOLOMBIA – Colombia is protesting “repeated and systematic violations” of its airspace by Russian aircraft, the latest sign of rising tensions on the border with Venezuela.
Colombia’s foreign ministry presented a letter to Russia’s ambassador in Bogota, Nikolai Tavdumadze, to protest the unauthorized overflights, the latest of which took place yesterday, foreign minister Claudia Blum said this morning on Twitter.
The flight that crossed over from neighboring Venezuela was conducted by a Russian government-owned Il-96 passenger jet from a squadron of aircraft typically used to transport VIPs, which appeared to have turned off its transponder after leaving Colombian airspace yesterday, according to flight tracking service Flightradar24.
Colombia is demanding a “swift response” from Moscow and guarantees that the overflight violations will not be repeated, Blum said.
Russia’s foreign ministry has not commented.
Colombia’s protest sheds light on escalating tensions with Venezuela, and the wider friction between the US and Russia. While Colombia is a close US ally and supports Venezuela’s political opposition, Russia supports the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro, a target of US sanctions.
The border, spanning more than 2,000km (1,243mi), has long been a focal point for drug trafficking and smuggling of oil, food and other goods. In recent weeks, the Venezuelan military clashed with a faction of Colombian-Venezuelan drug traffickers in Apure state in Venezuela, where Colombian non-state actors routinely take refuge.
Russian deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov led a delegation to Caracas in late March in a sign of renewed bilateral ties. The two sides signed 12 cooperation agreements under the auspices of a high-level joint committee that is scheduled to meet again in Moscow in the second half of 2021.
Source: Argus Media