USA, Moldova and Ukraine: Balloons are now being spotted everywhere. When one appears over the Ukrainian capital, the air force there reacts immediately. Kiev's military suspects a plan by Moscow that isn't just about surveillance.
According to the authorities, the Ukrainian air force has seen several balloons apparently launched from Russia over the capital Kiev and shot down most of them. Officials in Kiev said the balloons could have been outfitted with reconnaissance equipment and launched to "detect and exhaust our air defenses." Most were shot down. The authorities would "carefully examine" the rubble, added the city administration in Kiev. The balloons had triggered an air alarm in the capital.
Earlier, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said Russia was using "virtually nothing" balloons to make Ukraine waste its anti-aircraft missiles. "The Russians will use all available methods of warfare to achieve their goals," Ignat said. It's not out of the question that the devices "can perform some sort of surveillance," so it's important to "understand them," he added.
According to the Air Force, these are ordinary gas-filled balloons with a reflector and radar. Since it is still an air target, the air defense systems are forced to react, said Ignat.
Since the start of the Russian invasion last February, Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly sighted Russian balloons in their airspace. On Tuesday, neighboring Moldova temporarily closed its airspace due to a flying object resembling a weather balloon.
At the beginning of February, a Chinese balloon flying over the United States for days led to a scandal between Washington and Beijing. A US fighter jet shot him down over the sea on February 4, and the US military has been looking for debris ever since. According to Washington, it was a Chinese spy balloon. Beijing, in turn, rejects this and speaks of a civil balloon for meteorological purposes that is off course.