TALLINN, Estonia — Two Spanish NATO jet fighters briefly violated Finnish airspace while intercepting three Russian aircraft near Estonia on Tuesday, NATO said.

The alliance said the fighter planes violated the airspace when they were in the process of asking Finland, which is not a NATO member, to take over the chase.

“In handing over the intercept to the Finnish jets, the Spanish jets accidentally entered Finnish airspace,” NATO spokesman Dylan P. White said in a statement. “NATO’s Air Command has explained the incident to the Finnish Air Operations Centre to improve future coordination.”

Finland’s defense ministry said the F-18 Super Hornets, part of NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltics, flew into Finnish airspace southwest of Helsinki Tuesday for under a minute at around 9 a.m.

The aircraft are currently based in NATO’s air base in Amari, Estonia.

The international air corridor over the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea is narrow and the Nordic country has experienced several air violations by military and civilian aircraft from neighboring Russia. However, violations by NATO planes are rare over non-alliance member Finland.


Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report

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