The goal is to avoid a mid-air collision or an accidental shoot-down when nations’ military aircraft encounter each other. Hence there are agreements on what is appropriate conduct and what is not. This is especially important in situations when planes from nations that are at tension with one another are involved. One mistake, and a difficult relationship can escalate dramatically.
So the question is, what is the status of Russia’s relationship with the United States? Obviously we are not at war, thankfully, but we’re not exactly the most comfortable of allies either. Especially when it comes to Syria where the US and Russia have some conflicting goals. And lately that relationship has become more strained over the shoot down of a Syrian fighter by a US warplane.
Russia has already taken action to show its displeasure over that act, and has now ratcheted tensions up more by sending a fighter plane to buzz one of our spy planes by only five feet, clearly an obvious breech of protocol and a dangerous act.
“An armed Russian jet came within five feet of a U.S. spy plane over the Baltic Sea Monday, Fox News reports.
“The Russian SU-27 fighter aircraft reportedly came up alongside the U.S. RC-135 and began flying in an ‘provocative’ and ‘erratic’ manner, U.S. officials said. Russia routinely buzzes U.S. ships and planes operating in the Baltic sea near its territory.”
As mentioned, this all stems from the recent downing of the Syrian jet by the US.
“Russia is the main ally of the Syrian regime and strongly protested the U.S. shootdown. Russia went as far as to say it would consider U.S. aircraft in Syria west of the Euphrates river ‘targets’ and pledged to track them with air defense systems.
“‘Any aircraft, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected in the operation areas west of the Euphrates River by the Russian air forces will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets,’ Russia’s defense ministry declared.”
The part about tracking and targeting US military aircraft in the skies over Syria by Russia is not particularly surprising, and is likely less significant than it sounds. No doubt Russia tracks everything in the sky over Syria, and has been doing so all along. Now if Russia had said it would shoot US planes down, you’d have an entirely different situation.
Nevertheless, harassing our military aircraft is an escalation, and it always brings the possibility of an accident or pilot error resulting in the loss of a plane.
Syria is already a terrible mess with competing factions and shifting alliances. Increasing hostilities between the US and Russia are not what is needed.
Source: Daily Caller