Tensions between Russia and NATO continued to rise this week, as Moscow demanded the removal of American nuclear missiles in Europe, while Sweden intercepted a group of military planes flying without transponders.
Russia has demanded that the United States remove all non-strategic nuclear weapons from Europe, claiming that their presence violates the 1968 Treaty on Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich disputed an assertion by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki that American nuclear weapons are constantly under the control of the United States, calling the comments distorted, according to UPI. The demand comes shortly after Russian officials asserted that they could potentially place nuclear weapons in the Crimea.
— Hedge AccordingLy (@HedgeBz) March 24, 2015
Over the weekend, tensions between Russia and NATO were further heightened when Moscow declared that Denmark could become a target for the country’s nuclear weapons if it joined NATO’s missile shield. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Denmark would achieve this by installing the appropriate radar on a single ship. Russian Ambassador Mikhail Vanin made the inflammatory claim on Sunday, writing in a Danish newspaper.
Martin Lidegard, Danish Foreign Affairs minister, was quick to respond to the Russian assertion.
“Russia knows full well that NATO’s missile defense is defensive and not targeted at them,” he said.
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) March 24, 2015
Meanwhile, increased Russian military activity in the Baltic has only added to rising tensions. On Tuesday, Sweden’s military announced that it had intercepted a flight of four Russian jets flying in international airspace over the Baltic sea, as Business Insider reports. The Russian planes, two Backfire bombers and two Flanker fighter jets, were flying with their transponders off, a tactic previously employed by Russian forces in the region.
— Press TV (@PressTV) March 24, 2015
Though Sweden is not a member of NATO, Russian incursions into their airspace have caused their military, as well as that of other NATO allies in Europe, to scramble fighters hundreds of times in recent years.
“The threat level to Sweden has not increased, but the Swedish armed forces track, as always,… the increased activity in our neighborhood,” officials noted.
Last year, a Russian military jet flying without its transponder nearly collided with a commercial airliner, an incident that provoked both Sweden and Denmark to complain vehemently to their respective ambassadors.
Speaking to reporters on March 19, Jen Psaki told reporters that American nuclear weapons in Europe are consistent with the non-proliferation treaty, despite Russia’s assertions.
[Image: Wikipedia via Business Insider]