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U.S. Flights and Russian intercepts mark a return to Cold War behavior in Europe’s skies

U.S.-Russian aviation encounters are supposed to be governed by a the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas, an agreement meant to reduce possibility for accidental military escalation between the two countries. This agreement was supplemented by 1989’s Agreement on the Prevention of Dangerous Military Activities. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia affirmed both agreements in 1998. While the military has not given exact figures on how often they happen, it appears that dangerous Russian intercepts in Europe are happening at a level not seen since the Cold War. Captured and released in a recent video, a Russia fighter flew within a few yards of a U.S. recon plane, thew on its afterburners, and forced the American plane to pass through the turbulent stream. Such movements could create a diplomatically catastrophic occurrence where the U.S. plane is damaged and results in a crash or even loss of life. While these intercepts are not specifically against the terms of these agreements, they are on the threshold of violations. In 2001, a Chinese jet made flew upside down above a Navy plane before losing control and colliding with the Navy plane. The Chinese pilot died and the American plane was forced to make an emergency landing. Analysts have also highlighted the U.S. roll in this escalation, citing American flights near Russian soil. “There are two sides here. We’re being more aggressive and then they’re being more aggressive in intercepting us,” said one retired Marine colonel. The U.S. has been “poking into seas that are close to Russian territory. This is the equivalent of the Caribbean for them, so they react.”

Source: Russian intercept marks a return to Cold War behavior in Europe’s skies

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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