August 1, the share of fighter pilots involved in the NATO mission “Baltic Air Policing” (“Baltic air police”) has had a lot of trouble. Planes of the Alliance guard the airspace over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (none of these countries own air force does not have). That there are situations associated with Russian planes, which is followed in the exclave of Kaliningrad or from it, there is nothing unusual. But in recent years activity in this area was particularly high.
The Ministry of defence of Lithuania has posted on its website an overview of the events. On 1 August, NATO aircraft first intercepted the military transport An-26. The plane was flying from Russia to Kaliningrad. The so-called “flight plan” (“flight plan”) was provided. The transponder transmitting-receiving device for detecting aircraft, was included (this means, for example, that air traffic controllers can see the aircraft on their screens).
Later that same day on the same route followed two su-27, two su-33 and two MiG-31. None of these aircraft did not provide any flight plan, the transponder was turned off. All of these aircraft were met in the air fighters NATO and escortrowley in Kaliningrad. And in the end came four su-27, they also followed from Russia to Kaliningrad.
Warns about the possible strengthening of NATO
The Minister of foreign Affairs of Poland warns that if Russia continues to increase military activity over the Baltic sea and around the Baltic States, NATO may find it necessary to take action.
“Today we have in the region strong enough. This presence aimed to keep from the conflict, similar to what we saw in Crimea. But, if we see an escalation on the part of Russia, NATO will probably have to take some new solutions”, — said Polish foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski in conversation with wPolityce.
Waszczykowski added that being a neighbor of Russia — “it is difficult because of the eternal threat and constant provocations in the Baltic and the Black sea”.
Exercises “West 2017”
A little further East, in Belarus, in a month starts, the largest in decades military exercises. Probably, in the teachings of the “West” will involve about 100 thousand soldiers. It is not known whether all movements in the air lately as something to do with preparing for the exercises. But some experts warn that the exercises can spiral out of control.
Naturally, such a situation makes the countries on the Eastern flank of NATO special attention. The Minister of defence of Estonia fears that Russian may in Belarus to stay. According to news Agency Reuters, some of the NATO countries has intelligence information indicating that thousands of Russian compounds can stay close to the border with Poland and the Baltic States.
Military air activity — escalation before exercise?
A Russian expert at the geirr Flicka (Geir Flikke) — member of the Norwegian foreign policy Institute (NUPI) and associate Professor at the University of Oslo. He does not exclude that the increased activity in the air may be part of the escalation, the culmination of which will be the Russian exercises.
“It will be the largest military exercises involving conventional weapons that Russia will hold since the end of the cold war. There are a lot of questions about how many soldiers they will use. If you believe the most-informed sources, it can be assumed that this figure will be 70 to 80 thousand people. It should be considered in light of the fact that relations between the US and Russia are at a very low level. Many countries are now very closely monitor the situation”.
— Do You feel that the activity in the air tied to the upcoming exercise?
“Yes, like that. Maybe Russian therefore serves some kind of signal, but it is difficult to tell which. As for the teachings and the model of their conduct, they can be interpreted as a message to NATO. An allusion to the fact that the protection of the Baltic countries — a difficult task. A special aim of the exercise is to remind NATO about Russia’s power,” says Flike.
Further activity in the air
It remains now to observe what is happening in the Baltic sea and around it. But if we consider the first week of August as a signal, it means that the NATO mission “Baltic Air Policing” coming tense days. 2 August, NATO aircraft had to double-take to the air to intercept two long-range antisubmarine aircraft Tu-142, then the two Il-38, it is also anti-submarine aircraft. The next day, 3 August, NATO aircraft had to fly to intercept two Il-38. But on 5 August were intercepted the freighter An-26. Many expect further growth in activity as it approaches the teachings of the “West”.
Geir Flikke draws our attention to the fact that when it comes to Russia, it is often hard to imagine what to expect. This probably contributes to the fact that the countries of the region, show increased vigilance.
“As for the exercises, they said about 13 thousand soldiers, but will use much more. It fits their pattern of behavior since then, as they came out of the Treaty limiting conventional weapons (Treaty on mutual control of conventional armed forces, the observers in connection with exercises, etc. — approx.ed. AldriMer). The CFE Treaty was the basis for warning systems and control and operate the purpose of building trust. But since Russia in 2007/2008 from the Contract came out, the effect associated with creation trust, has become weaker,” says in conclusion Flicka.