By Nick Simeone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2014 – Russian military aircraft are continuing to fly stepped-up maneuvers over European airspace in what a Pentagon spokesman today called a potential risk to security and civilian aviation.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that NATO had tracked Russian fighter jets, long-range bombers and tanker aircraft over the Baltics, the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean today, and that the United States is watching the Russian air activity very closely.
“We certainly don’t see these increased flights and activity as helpful to the security situation in Europe,” Kirby said, adding that they risk further escalating tensions between Moscow and the West, already heightened because of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
“They also, quite frankly, could pose just a potential risk to civil aviation, just in the sheer number of and size of and scope of these flights,” he added.
NATO Planes Scramble
Over the past few days, NATO planes have scrambled in response to more than 20 Russian aircraft, including strategic bombers and tankers, conducting military maneuvers in international airspace over Europe in what the alliance has characterized as an unusual level of air activity.
Yesterday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described it as a pattern of increased Russian air activity along NATO’s borders. “So far this year, it has been over 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft,” he said. “That’s more than three times as much as we had during the whole of last year.”
Special thanks: DOD