• February 22, 2015



The Celtic League has expressed concern to the Russian Ambassador in London about flights by Russian military aircraft through busy civil air traffic zones around the Celtic countries with their transponders switched off.

Russian military aircraft which for many years flew probing missions towards the North of Scotland and NE England have in recent months been ranging further afield.

The aircraft are believed to fly from their bases in south central Russia out over Murmansk and across the Norwegian Sea. They then skirt Northern Scotland and cross the busy transatlantic air routes off Irelands west coast.

Latterly the aircraft, usually a pair of Tuploev 95 long range reconnaissance aircraft have continued around the south coast of Ireland, skirting the coast of Cornwall before turning mid-way up the English Channel and retracing their route back to the Russian Federation. This final leg of the journey also means that the aircraft (which with transponders switched of would be undetected by civil traffic) cross busy air routes between Ireland, the UK and Europe. Hundreds of commercial flights pass via the route the Russian aircraft regularly dissect.

The Irish government have suggested the potential risks posed by the flights should be resolved via the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the League have urged the Russian government to cooperate in any ICAO enquiry.

A copy of the letter to the Russian Ambassador is set out below:

“The Ambassador
Alexander Yakovenko
Embassy of the Russian Federation
6-7 Kensington Palace Gardens
United Kingdom

19th February 2015

Dear Ambassador Yakovenko,

The Celtic League works to promote cooperation between the Celtic Countries (Scotland, Ireland. Mann, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany) and supports movements within those countries in their struggle for independence. We are not supportive of involvement by the Celtic countries in geo-political military blocs or alliances

In the one Celtic country that is currently independent ‘The Republic of Ireland’ we have always supported a stance of neutrality and we are actively opposed to the involvement of that Country in military alliances with the United Kingdom or any integration with NATO.

To that end we work with like minded bodies such as the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) in opposition, not just to NATO involvement, but for neutrality generally.

We support those including the present Scottish government who wish to see nuclear weapons removed from that country.

I set out the above because I think it is important that the government of the Russian Federation understand that we have no wish to see our countries involved in any military embroilment or incident involving your Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

To that end incursions over recent months by Russian military aircraft into ‘controlled airspace’ off Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall are both unwelcome and unwarranted, particularly as the aircraft are reported to have had their flight transponders turned off meaning that civil air traffic would not be aware of their presence.

There has been speculation in the United Kingdom press as to what sort of weaponry these aircraft might be carrying however in our view a much greater immediate danger is the fact that such incursions (whilst not involving over-flights of sovereign territory) pose a risk to domestic airliner traffic travelling on routes in ‘controlled airspace’ to and from the Celtic countries.

Another side effect of these ‘probing’ flights is that it could lead to an enhanced militarisation of the Celtic countries something that our organisation has worked against for almost 40 years.

I believe your countries Embassy in Dublin has issued a robust defence of your current activities and suggested no threat is posed to civil aviation. Meanwhile the Irish government has suggested this issue could be resolved via the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

We trust that the government of the Russian Federation will be pragmatic and respond to the Irish government concerns by cooperating via the ICAO in resolving the matter.

As set out above the peoples of the Celtic countries have no hostility towards the Russian Federation and its people and therefore we would respectively request that incursions by your countries military aircraft into ‘controlled airspace’ around the Celtic countries should be restricted or at least comply with ICAO guidance on safety.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League”

Related links here:



J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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