A military source in Athens this week reportedly revealed that Russian military surveillance aircraft have for some time flown through the southern-most part of the Athens FIR – south of the large island of Crete – without filing a required flight plan.

The report, published by “Kathimerini”, said such an infringement of Athens FIR regulations by Russian military planes averages two to three times a month, although in the past such incidents were more frequent, sometimes twice a week.

The same report cites Russian-made Ilyushin and Antonov turbo-props planes as taking off from Syria and landing in Libya, most of the times flying in pairs.

Additionally, in most cases Hellenic Air Force F-16 fighter planes are scrambled from the Kasteli airbase on Crete to identify the aircraft and remain in close distance – as close as five nautical miles in some instances – until the Russian planes exit the Athens FIR.

Russian planes taking off from Syria are first detected by NATO’s surveillance systems and alliance planes in the east Mediterranean, with the information passed on to the Greek air force, the article maintains.

The report also cited Athens’ displeasure with the practice, something that was conveyed to Moscow via “proper military channels”.