Russia shuns Lithuania over downed plane dispute


MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia declined Wednesday to hold a planned intergovernmental commission with Lithuania because of the dispute over the Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter that crashed in Lithuania last week.

"Considering the situation around the Russian Su-27 fighter and Lithuania's proceedings against [pilot] Major [Valery] Troyanov and despite some constructive efforts on behalf of Vilnius, Russia deems it impossible to hold a session of the bilateral intergovernmental commission for trade and economic, research and development, humanitarian and cultural cooperation, scheduled earlier for September 22-24 in Palang [Lithuania]," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Russian fighter, flying from St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad (Russia's exclave on the Baltic Sea), veered off course after a failure in the navigation system and crashed in Lithuania, a member of NATO, on September 15. The pilot ejected safely, but is not being permitted to leave Lithuania because Vilnius suspects the plane was conducting a reconnaissance operation targeting the Lithuanian air defense system.

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