MOSCOW – The US and NATO air forces have not only boosted their surveillance activities along Russia’s borders, but now also increasingly train for potential strikes on the country’s soil, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said. Speaking to Russian TV on Sunday, Shoigu noted a sharp increase in foreign surveillance and training flights testing the country’s borders and air defenses.
Last month, such activities increased by some 30 percent when compared to August last year. Moreover, the transatlantic bloc’s military aircraft have been actively training to conduct airstrikes, routinely performing mock missile launches on targets within the country, Shoigu revealed.
“The most alarming is that if earlier – even though not that frequently – there were mainly reconnaissance aircraft, they’ve now begun regular training flights with large numbers of planes, during which the mock missile strikes are conducted,” he added.
Over the past few weeks, several incidents between Russian and NATO planes occurred in close proximity to the country’s borders. The latest took place on Friday, when three nuclear-capable US Air Force B-52H strategic bombers approached Russia’s border through Ukrainian airspace. The bombers were intercepted by eight fighter jets and warned away from the border.
Another incident involving US strategic bombers occurred late in August, when a B-52H was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet over the Baltic Sea. The altercation prompted a wider international scandal, as another NATO country – Denmark – claimed the Russian plane violated the country’s borders while chasing the US plane.
Moscow, however, has firmly denied the accusations, insisting that the interception was made in accordance with all international rules. Russia also expressed anger and warned that such intrusions will be met with a response from the Russian Air Force. NATO and more specifically the US is continuing its provocations along Russia’s borders, which is only increasing tensions between the superpowers.