An unidentified flying object caused the cancellation of flights at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg, Russian information resources said on February 28. The requirement for the immediate landing or withdrawal from a certain area of all aircraft in flight came to force immediately, except for military and rescue ones. This is introduced only in exceptional cases.
Later, fighters, presumably MiG-31 and Su-35, took off into the air, the sky over the northern capital was closed until 13:00. 200 square kilometers (77.2 sq.m) of airspace were closed over St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, and civilian liners were transferred to the waiting area. The “Carpet” plan is introduced when crossing the border illegally, as well as when unidentified objects appear in the airspace.
Social networks spread very conflicting information. Some argue that a reconnaissance drone was spotted over Pulkovo, either from the Baltic countries or from Finland. Others write that a huge balloon of the type that recently flew over the United States was allegedly seen in the St. Petersburg sky.
According to the Flightradar24 service, there were no civilian aircraft in the air over St. Petersburg for about an hour. As reported, the closure of the airspace could be associated with the search for an unknown flying object.
As the leader of the Russian Union of Afghan Veterans, former Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security (2015-2020), Colonel of the Reserve Franz Klintsevich, said, “the “Carpet” mode is achieved primarily by echeloning air defense, when on the distant approaches the military and other objects are such anti-aircraft missile systems as S-300, S-400, Buk-M3, Pantsir-S1 and some others.
Radar stations work taking into account the fact that these air defense systems “overlap” many times. That is, a certain aircraft enters the zone of fire damage, and the general command control system itself makes a decision and gives a command to use either the S-300, or the S-400, Pantsir or Buk, depending on the reflective surface of the target, its size, height, speed, range , – Klintsevich explained.
In his opinion, “this air defense system is very reliable, and, as a rule, it covers” very serious “military and government facilities.”
Closer to noon, it was reported that the UFO had been spotted 160-200 km from St. Petersburg. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation transmitted this data to Pulkovo, after which the air harbor stopped receiving aircraft and fighter jets began to be on duty in the air. In addition, the mayor’s office of St. Petersburg reported a delay in flights to Pulkovo up to 12 hours.
Residents of the city reported on social networks about a terrible of jet turbine roar over their heads, and according to rumors, a UFO was seen over the airport.
At the same time, the leadership of the metropolis added that the airport and its services were operating normally.
Around 12:00, the media channels announced the cancellation of the Carpet plan and the opening of airspace over St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.
At about 12.30 the first planes after the temporary closure of the sky landed in Pulkovo.
Two hours after the incident, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that on February 28, the duty forces of the Western zone of responsibility for air defense conducted a training session on interaction with civilian air traffic control authorities.
“The air defense forces on duty have worked out the issues of detecting, intercepting and identifying the alleged target of the intruder, as well as interacting with emergency services and law enforcement agencies in the event of an emergency,” the report says.
The media claims that the Russian military involved fighter jets during the exercises, which made sorties “to work out the issues of interception and identification of the conditional target of the intruder.”