Russian and American relations have been excessively strained over past few years, due to Russian military exercises and the Ukraine crisis. The biggest turning point was the Russian takeover, and occupation, of the Crimean peninsula. Though the continued tensions at face value have been exercised rhetorically, much more seems to be going on behind the scenes.
CNN reports, as recently elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited Canada on Wednesday, that six Russian military airplanes were spotted flying within U.S. and Canadian airspace. Reports suggest that while they did not fully enter U.S. or Canadian airspace, the Russian airplanes did enter U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone.
According to The Independent, ADIZ is a zone 200 miles west of Alaska. That is 188 miles further than sovereign airspace, which reports say is 12 miles. CNN described the incident that took place Wednesday evening, though earliest reports did not come in until Friday.
“[T]wo Alaskan-based F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-78 refueling tankers, two Russian Mig-31 fighter jets and two Russian Bear long-range bombers, according to Capt. Jeff Davis of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.”
In a sign that seems to confirm the Ukrainian president’s meetings were the cause of the Russian intrusion, a little more than six hours later, Canadian CF-18 fighters intercepted two more Russian airplanes that came within 40 miles of the Canadian coastline. This is significantly closer to the Canadian airspace than the American incident earlier in the day.
Army Lt Col. Michael Jazdyk suggested to USA Today that the U.S. air response was only to “monitor the situation to make sure they weren’t going to go in our airspace.” NORAD suggested that this was not at all unusual. According to The Independent, NORAD stated that it had intercepted 50 Russian airplanes in the past five years alone.
The Inquisitr, reporting on a Chinese aircraft that made dangerous pass at a U.S. plane, also noted an incident with a Russian airplane in August.
“These altercations are not isolated to the Chinese alone. Russia has been the subject of similar aeronautic maneuvers, as well. From June until as recently as August 7, there has been off and on intercepts of Russian planes near ‘American Air Defense Zones,’ as well as Canada. The incident in June was the closest contact.”
Russian airplanes seem to have more than U.S. and Canada on their mind that day as well. Swedish airplanes also encountered Russian intrusion into their airspace, according to The Independent.
“[T]he Swedish Foreign Ministry said two Russian military aircraft had crossed into its air space south of the Baltic Sea island of Oland. The ministry called it a ‘serious violation’ and said it has summoned the Russian ambassador over the incident.”
This all begs the question, what are the Russian motivations by these presumed provocations?
Is there something more sinister behind it, or is this merely Russian intimidation due to a country feeling threatened by an ever expanding list of country’s who are turning against the former Soviet Union? What are your thoughts?
[Images via Wikimedia Commons]