Helicopters from Russia were supposed to pick up the wreckage of the Su-27, which crashed in Lithuania

Russian fighter Su-27 crashed 15 in September 2005, near Kaunas, violating Lithuanian airspace. His catastrophe led to a big political crisis on the Vilnius-Moscow line. For a very long time, Lithuania did not want to give the Russians wreckage, nor to give out the pilot, who was able to eject at the last moment, and who got out of the disaster without damage.

From the dispatches just published in WikiLeaks, we can see how interested the Russians were in getting the wreckage. "The Russian fighter type Su-27 immediately wanted to get the Russians, while the Lithuanians wanted the wreckage to get the Americans," - said the Lithuanian portal Delfi.


According to WikiLeaks, the Russian side was going to immediately send helicopters from Kaliningrad, whose crews would have collected the remains of their most modern fighter at that time. But the Lithuanians did not want to agree to this - it would be a precedent in which Russian military helicopters would end up in a country belonging to NATO.

- I completely exclude the possibility that Russian helicopters could then fly over the wreckage of a fighter. This possibility was not even considered then, because according to international procedures, the investigation should have been carried out with us. Although I will not hide the fact that the Russians strongly insisted. To this end, they sent their diplomats, says Gediminas Kirkilas, then Lithuanian Minister of Defense.

The problem was the black boxes. According to WikiLeaks, the Lithuanians asked the Americans for help. Washington refused, pointing out that the necessary equipment for decrypting the records was available to France. But the French also did not want to get into the devices belonging to the military aircraft of Russia. In the end, the Ukrainians did it.

- For help in deciphering black boxes, we turned to several countries, including France and Germany. And in the end it turned out that this type can be discovered only in Russia, the USA and Ukraine. We have rejected Russia. The Americans made it necessary for us to deliver the boxes to the USA, which turned out to be difficult. Therefore, we chose Ukraine. I personally talked on this topic with the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, ”says Kirkilas. He assures that Lithuania did not cooperate with the Americans on the issue of the then catastrophe.

- It would not bother me at all. It was 2005 year, the first year of Lithuania’s membership in NATO. And Lithuania has for many years positioned itself as one of the most pro-American countries, ”says Joanna Hindle, an expert on Lithuania at the Warsaw Center for Eastern Studies. According to WikiLeaks, it is possible that the Americans actually inspected the remains of the aircraft, after which they, like the pilot, were given to Moscow.

- We did it only after the end of the investigation, when it became clear that the pilot’s mistake was the cause of the crash. In addition, the car was very old. By NATO standards, it would not have to fly. - We found missiles at the crash site, says Kirkilas. For the damage, Moscow paid 19 thousand euros.

- Has this catastrophe changed the Lithuanian-Russian relations?

- Not. When Dalia Grybauskaite became president of Lithuania in 2009, both sides expressed their hopes for a revival of relations. However, due to the Lithuanian gas policy, it still has not come to this day, Hindle says.
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