Three Russian aircraft have been spotted approaching Baltic airspace, according to the Independent. The RAF has responded by sending Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets. This was reportedly done as part of an effort to “keep Britain’s skies secure.”
The Guardian // RAF fighters intercept Russian jets near Estonia for second time in a week https://t.co/pcGoLysDtO
— @jaugernews (@jaugernews) May 18, 2016
The British Typhoon fighter jets were launched from Amari air base in Estonia. The RAF made the decision to scramble the jets after the Russian crafts did not transmit a recognized identification code.
It is the second time this week that such a deployment has been deemed necessary.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon blasted Putin’s military. Fallon called the incident an “act of Russian aggression.”
“This is another example of just how important the UK’s contribution to the Baltic Air Policing Mission is. We were able to instantly respond to this act of Russian aggression – demonstration of our commitment to Nato’s collective defence.”
The NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission is a NATO initiative in which members cooperate to help Eastern European states Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania guard their air space, reports UA Today.
“This deployment underlines our commitment to the sovereignty of the democratic nations of Eastern Europe. 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next four months, our RAF Typhoons will be ready to respond instantly to Russian aggression in Baltic airspace.”
The Huffington Post recently reported that Putin is under pressure from his advisers to cooperate less with the West and be more aggressive in promoting Russia’s interests, both militarily and economically.
“For some time there have been indications that a key faction within the Kremlin, one that very loosely might be termed ‘nationalist,’ has become deeply disenchanted with Putin’s toleration of the Washington Consensus.”
These Russian nationalists are reportedly encouraging Putin to purge Western-friendly officials at the Russian central bank, and to dismantle Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s perceived Western-friendly government.
“Putin may be highly popular, but Medvedev’s government is not.”
The anti-West faction is also said to be critical of economic management by the Medvedev government.
These unidentified Russian officials are said to be deeply militant, wanting “to see an immediate mobilization of the military and the economy for war, conventional or hybrid.”
“Putin is being pushed to wield the knife — and to cut deeply.”
Vox has argued that Putin is already extremely aggressive in his tactics, dubbing the Russian leader’s maneuvers “geopolitical trolling.”
“On Monday and Tuesday, Russian planes and helicopters flew very, very close to the USS Donald Cole, a destroyer operating in the Baltic Sea.”
Vox speculates that Putin regularly commits airspace transgressions in order to “show strength.”
“Why does this keep happening? It’s hard to know for sure…But given what we know about Russian foreign policy in the Putin era, these overflights make a lot of sense. Putin, you see, has elevated aggressive geopolitical trolling to the level of doctrine.”
The airspace tactics are referred to as “needless provocations” which may not even benefit Russia strategically, and which put everyone involved at risk of a “scary escalation.”
“Needless provocations aimed at signaling ‘strength’ have become a hallmark of Russia’s foreign policy in the Putin years. These actions are buzzy and generate a lot of breathless coverage in the American press, but they often offer little in the way of actual strategic value for Russia — and indeed often risk scary escalation.”
An infamous series of such “trolling” incidents took place during Russia’s 2015 intervention in Syria.
Russian planes repeatedly violated Turkish airspace. Turkey eventually shot down a Russian plane in November 2015, sparking fears that Putin would retaliate.
British jets confront Russian warplanes threatening Estonian… https://t.co/pYlIuicONC
— IrritatedWoman™ (@irritatedwoman) May 18, 2016
[Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images]