Russian Air Force Chief Claims Violations of Safety Rules
The saga continues. NATO was accused recently by the chief of
Russia's air force for violation of safety rules while escorting
Russian bombers on patrol flights over neutral waters.
CNN reports Col.-Gen. Alexander Zelin said Saturday NATO
aircraft were creating risky situations by approaching bombers too
closely and too often. "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.
Zelin complained 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 said.
Though portraying itself as an innocent party, Russia has been
the antagonist in similar disputes, according to NATO. As ANN reported in February,
the US scrambled fighters to intercept and escort Russian Tu-95
"Bear" bombers that flew over a US aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
In September 2007, Finland accused Russian jets of violating
Russia responds its Cold War-era
turboprops were flying over neutral territory.
Such interceptions and disputes were common during the Cold War
when Soviet bombers regularly flew missions over neutral
waters. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the flights
had become less common and even stopped for a time. Recent moves by
the Russian government to assert its military power in the
international arena has given rise to the flights once again.
The renewed interest in the patrol flights by Russia is not the
only display of military might Moscow is using. Under the eye of
newly elected President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia displayed tanks and
missile launchers on Red Square for the first time since the Soviet
era on Friday as part of Victory Day celebrations.
Though Russia's military spending has increased to an annual $40
billion during the past eight years from oil profits, analysts say
the armed forces still suffer from problems such as corruption and
outdated equipment that has reduced its capabilities since the