Finland To Return Wreckage Of Stray Missile This Week
HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ Finland said today it will return to the Soviet Union wreckage of a wayward Soviet target missile that crashed into a frozen lake in Finnish Lapland on Dec. 28.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry said the debris would be sent to the Soviet Union by train by the end of the week.
President Mauno Koivisto and the ministry acceded to a Soviet request to return the parts one day after Koivisto came back from a round-the-world vacation trip. The president has the final say in Finland’s foreign policy and in its delicate relations with its Soviet neighbor.
The Finns asked the Kremlin to compensate them for the ″direct costs″ of retrieving the missile fragments. Divers and helicopters worked under extreme weather conditions to salvage the parts in a remote region near the Soviet border.
The ministry said it will take time to calculate recovery costs.
Finnish Air Force experts were still examining the the missile’s nose, engine, main body, tail and guidance system at a main depot in central Finland.
But Maj. Lars Olof Fredriksson said smooth handling of the incident was more important than continued scrutiny of the wreckage, which was found to be from an unarmed, jet-powered aerial target at least 15 years old.
Frederiksson said examination had revealed that the missile came down intact, but disintegrated when it crashed into the 31-inch thick ice covering Lake Inari. Most of the vehicle plunged 40 feet to the lake bottom.
The missile crossed the airspace of Norway and Finland on its wayward flight during Soviet naval exercises in the Barents Sea. Moscow made unprecedented apologies to both countries.