Mar 20, 2014

Russian jets buzz Norwegian coast

As Norwegian politicians try to balance their indignation and concerns over Russia’s territorial takeover in Crimea, Russian fighter jets continue to fly up and down along Norway’s own territorial border off the northwest coast. The regular flights seem aimed at asserting Russia’s growing military presence in the Arctic, while Norwegian leaders seem intent on avoiding provocation.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Wednesday that the Russian fighter jet flights have been occurring on a weekly basis, with between 50 and 90 registered every year since 2009 according to numbers from the Norwegian military’s operational headquarters. The Russian pilots stay just outside the so-called 12-mile zone, or roughly 22 kilometers offshore, and usually fly from north to south, often turning around over the scenic archipelago of Lofoten.
Military officials believe the missions are fueled by a need for pilot training and to simply show off.
The Norwegian military responds to every flight by sending its own F16 jet fighters up. During the Cold War, Norway and NATO registered hundreds of such flights a year, but they tapered off dramatically when the Soviet Union broke apart in the early 1990s. The flights started to take off again around 2000.
Today the Russian military presence and visibility in the northern areas” is stronger than it’s been in many years.

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