With the resurgence of Russian airpower in the Baltic region, recent clashes have led even the Russians to take a look at air safety measures.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he accepted his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto’s proposal to develop aviation security measures in the Baltic region.  Primarily, the issue involves Russian aircraft not flying around with their transponders turned on.  The transponder emits an identifying signal so other aircraft and ground radars can track the aircraft position and altitude.

Putin, however, was adamant about making clear that Russian aircraft were not the only violators:

“I would remind that not only Russian planes fly over the Baltics without turning on their respective identification devices, but also all NATO countries’ aircraft. The number of NATO flights over the Baltics in this mode is twice the efficiency of Russian aircraft flights. This is not our invention, this is statistics,” Putin said.

But their have been other incidents in the region with the Russians that have suggested air safety needs to be a primary concern.

Russian SU-24 fighters came dangerously close (some estimates as near as 30 feet) during flyover runs to the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea back in April.  This and other aggressive maneuvers by the Russians have spurred discussions on how to improve air safety and avoid an unintentional mishap that could lead to a major confrontation.

Former Polish President Lech Walesa weighed in on the situation telling Radio Free Europe on Saturday:

“If I was a commanding officer on that ship [Donald Cook], and I saw those planes flying above, I would just shoot them down. I wouldn’t kill the pilots. I’d shoot through the wing”.

Ironically, Walesa is a 1983 Nobel Peace prize winner. To be fair, no love is lost between Russian and Poland, but taking a shot is probably not the best approach.