BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday denounced the incursion by a US research vessel into its territorial waters in the Caribbean, and will send a note of protest to US diplomats in Bogota.
The incursion comes just days after two Russian bombers entered Colombian airspace without authorization as the bombers flew from Nicaragua to Venezuela as part of a training exercise, and then again from Venezuela back to Nicaragua.
Colombia had scrambled fighter jets to intercept the bombers, and escort them out of Colombian territory both times.
A high ranking Air Force officer told El Espectador newspaper he did not understand why Russia had not just asked permission for the flyover, as they had done and been granted on previous occasions.
The US ship was detected on early Friday morning near Quitasueño, an islet that makes up part of the Caribbean archipelago that includes San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina. These are the same islands at the center of an unresolved territorial dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua.
“One of our patrol ships approached the vessel which was a scientific research ship, and our ship asked if they had permission to be there, they said no,” Santos told reporters Friday.
The president said his government will deliver a diplomatic note to the US Embassy protesting the incident.
But President Santos played down the incident, saying, “there is nothing extraordinary here and no need to create a storm in a glass of water.”
The Colombian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday delivered a protest letter to Russian diplomats after the two Tupolev-160 bombers made that incursion over Colombian territory, and then passed over Colombia again when the warplanes flew back to Venezuela.