Tags: Russia | Russian | military | flying | fewer | missions | European

NATO: Russian Military Flying Fewer Missions Near European Nations

By    |   Thursday, 30 April 2015 07:28 PM

After flying close to several European nations in 2014, Russian military planes have slowed down the practice, according to NATO.

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander and the head of U.S. European Command Gen. Philip Breedlove said Thursday NATO jets were scrambled more than 150 times last year due to Russian military planes flying too close. But the country appears to be preoccupied with the situation in Ukraine and other military conflicts, as the flights have become less frequent.

"There are all other kinds of focus that the Russian military has right now, including the Ukraine and other places," Breedlove said, according to Defense One. "They may have put demands on their force structure that they now have to address in maintenance ways. I really would not want to speculate."

Breedlove added that the number of Russian military flights skirting NATO members' borders is currently "pretty close to norm."

European countries, according to Defense One, patrol the airspace above their own skies. But NATO members in Europe pitch in to fly over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Baltic countries without a strong air force.

The three Baltic nations are along or near western Russia, making them easily accessible to planes flying in Russian President Vladimir Putin's military.

The NATO countries patrol the Baltic nations in rotations lasting four months, according to Defense One. Italy's rotation ends Thursday and Norway will take the lead on the patrols starting Friday. Belgium, Italy, and the United Kingdom will assist Norway during its rotation that ends in August.

In early April, a U.S. military reconnaissance plane was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet in international skies over the Baltic Sea. The jet, according to the Pentagon, made "unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers" near the U.S. plane.

"Unprofessional air intercepts have the potential to cause harm to all aircrews involved. More importantly, the careless actions of a single pilot have the potential to escalate tensions between countries," Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said.

The U.S. government filed an official protest with Russia over the incident.

Last November, meanwhile, Russia announced its long-range bombers would conduct regular missions from the Arctic Ocean down to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The show of force came amid tensions with the West over Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Countries at or near the Arctic Circle met last week to discuss the growing threat of a potential new Cold War with Russia.

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After flying close to several European nations in 2014, Russian military planes have slowed down the practice, according to NATO.
Russian, military, flying, fewer, missions, European, nations, NATO
Thursday, 30 April 2015 07:28 PM
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