Russian fury at NATO 'air attacks'
May 10, 2008 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- Russia's air force chief has accused NATO fighters escorting Russian bombers on patrol flights over neutral waters of violating safety rules.
Col.-Gen. Alexander Zelin said on Saturday that NATO aircraft were approaching Russian bombers too closely and too often, creating risky situations.
"They approach our strategic bombers at unacceptable distances and at unacceptable intervals, conduct various maneuvers around them and violate flight safety rules in every way," Zelin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as telling reporters Saturday.
No one answered the phone at the Air Force's press service Saturday.
An increasingly assertive Moscow is seeking to showcase its military might and clout in the international arena.
During Friday's Victory Day parade, Russia displayed tanks and missile launchers on Red Square for the first time since the Soviet era, evoking the Cold War.
Russia's military spending has increased eightfold to an annual $40 billion during the past eight years, thanks to the nation's oil bonanza.
Analysts, however, say the armed forces still suffer from the problems that have dented its capability and prestige since the Soviet collapse.
Zelin complained that NATO F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighter jets regularly "attack" Russian bombers over the Arctic Ocean.
"It is not a misuse of the word 'attack' because our partners are training for combat actions, reaching the point of an attack," Zelin was quoted as saying.
"I must confess that this is quite unpleasant and even dangerous. Naturally, we rehearse our counteractions."
There was no immediate comment from NATO.
Russia itself has been the subject of similar disputes. In February, Russian bombers flew over a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Pacific, prompting the U.S. to scramble fighters to escort the Russian aircraft.
In September last year, Russian jets were accused of violating Finnish airspace. Russia said the jets were flying over neutral territory.
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europ ... cnn_latest
NATO fighters escorting Russian bombers over neutral waters break safetyrules - official
09:06 GMT, May 10, 2008
MOSCOW. May 10 (Interfax) - The dangerous maneuvering of foreign
fighters near Russian Tupolev Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers may
lead to air incidents, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force Col.
Gen. Alexander Zelin said.
"I would not want to single that out but I must say that they are
acting tactlessly, to put it mildly. They approach our strategic bombers
to unacceptable distances and at unacceptable intervals, conduct various
maneuvers around them and violate flight safety rules in every way," he
told the press on Saturday.
"It is good that our crews have good self-control and discipline,"
"They turn on monitoring equipment and record the violations. So if
there is any dispute we will always be able to prove that we were right
and acted properly. Especially as there exist certain agreements in the
framework of international conventions that must be strictly fulfilled,"
Russia has bilateral agreements on the prevention of air incidents
with almost all leading nations, Zelin said. "And they define clear
distances and intervals between aerial craft," he said.
Russian strategic aviation continues patrolling the air above the
oceans. The patrolling resumed in August 2007, he said. Russian bombers
make regular flights over the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans in
addition to the Black and Mediterranean seas.
"Today in line with the approved plans we are making 20-30 flights
over the indicated areas. Simultaneously we are carrying out air defense
and other missions," Zelin said. As a rule such missions are harmonized
with naval tasks and rescue operations, he said.
The Russian Air Force is offering a form of training to its
partners, he said.
"Duty aircraft both from NATO members and other states regularly
escort us when during our combat patrol flight. By the way, as far as we
know British pilots are very happy that we have started making flights
to the North Atlantic - they are being paid additional fees for combat
duty," the general joked.
"However, this is no friendly escort for our strategic bombers," he
"F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters regularly attack us above the Artic
Ocean. It is not a misuse of the word "attack" because our partners are
training combat action reaching the point of attack. I must confess that
this is quite unpleasant and even dangerous. Naturally we rehearse our
counteractions," Zelin said.
Several days ago two Russian Tu-95 bombers patrolled the air above
the Atlantic, he said.
"The bombers remained in the air for over 15 hours. Two Ilyushin
Il-78 tankers refueled them in the air. NATO Tornado and F-16 fighters
escorted our Tu-95 and Il-78," he said.
He reported technical failures during the flights. "But they did
not spoil the missions. For instance, there was a technical failure
once. Thank god it was singular. Touch wood. It did not affect the final
result in any way. So our flights over the seas continue and will
continue according to plan," he said.