‘Flex Your Military Muscles & Run’: NATO Air Power Plays Game on Russian Borders

Saturday, July 15, 2017
By Paul Martin


In the last two weeks, Russian warplanes scrambled to intercept nearly a dozen NATO aircraft flying near Russia’s western borders. Meanwhile, the alliance is accusing Russia of being the irresponsible party. RIA Novosti military observer Ilya Kharlamov notes that the ‘storm of indignation’ coming out of Brussels looks disingenuous, mildly speaking.

This week, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that air force fighter jets had conducted a minimum of six intercepts against foreign reconnaissance planes on Russia’s borders in the past week. The week before that, at least four more NATO planes were intercepted patrolling near the Russian frontier.

These intercepts, Kharlamov wrote, were carried out in a calm, routine and matter of fact manner. The Russian aircraft were sent into the skies, at a minimum to demonstrate their presence, and as a maximum, to shoo away the uninvited guests.

Meanwhile, the intensity of NATO reconnaissance flights has increased significantly in recent weeks. “Obviously, they’re out probing for gaps in Russia’s western borders, and have received a straightforward, standard reaction in response,” the observer added.

And that is what makes NATO’s claims against Russia so paradoxical, Kharlamov added. This week, ahead of Thursday’s NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels, alliance officials complained about Russian pilots’ “unsafe behavior” during their interception missions, and vowed to press Moscow to provide NATO with flight plans, force Russian pilots to respond to air traffic control and/or identify themselves using transponders, etc.

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