Russian Military Activity in Europe’s Airspace Is ‘Dangerous,’ Says U.K.
‘We Are Responding,’ Says U.K. Defense Minister as He Discusses Issue With European Peers
“We’ve seen larger [Russian] formations, going further,” Mr. Fallon told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. “On Oct .31, we saw Russian aircraft go past Norway, past Denmark, past the U.K., past Ireland, all the way down to Portugal. Portugal and Ireland are of no concern to Russia.”
Described the recent Russian aircraft activity as unnecessary, Mr. Fallon said “it’s illegal and doesn’t conform to the conventions of international aviation. It’s provocative, it’s intimidating and frankly it’s dangerous.”
Russian aircraft that don’t file flight plans or that maintain no radio contact are posing a risk to civil aviation, according to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO has recorded more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft in European airspace so far this year, three times the total last year.
(Click on picture to increase size)
Asked whether the Russians were increasing their activity to test Western defense capabilities, Mr. Fallon said: “if they are, we are responding.” The 12 countries meeting in Oslo Thursday discussed closer cooperation on the sharing of data and intelligence on the Russian airspace activity, he added.
The Oslo meeting included ministers of defense from the Baltic and Nordic countries, and the U.K., as well as representatives from Poland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Germany, and comes at a time of increased Russian military activity on land and at sea.
“There’s clearly concern about that, and that’s one reason I’m here today,” Mr. Fallon said.
Russia on Wednesday sent fresh convoys of troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine, according to NATO. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow will extend its long-distance aerial missions as far as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
“The security situation in Europe has changed fundamentally,” Estonia’s Defense Minister Sven Mikser told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Thursday, adding that Europe should respond to Russia’s military buildup and increased military spending. “Strength is a language that (President Vladimir) Putin understands.”
“We see increased Russian military activity, for instance aircraft activity and exercises, both in the northern areas and the Baltic Sea region. A major part of our discussions has been how to address this,” said Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.