RUSSIA’S recent military flights into European airspace are meant to demonstrate to the West that the country is a “great power,” NATO’s supreme allied commander said on Monday.
Although there has been an increase in Russian air activity over Europe during the past year, last week marked the first time Moscow had sent in larger formations of warplanes, General Philip Breedlove told reporters.
“My opinion is they’re messaging us. They’re messaging us that they are a great power,” Breedlove said.
Moscow wanted to show it can exert influence on the alliance’s calculations, he said.
In the past, Russian flights were carried out by small groups of one or two aircraft, he said.
“And what you saw this past week was a larger, more complex formation of aircraft, carrying out a little deeper — I would say a little bit more provocative flight path,” the US general said.
The flights were cause for “concern” and “do not add to or contribute to a secure and stable situation.” Russian naval forces also have taken similar provocative steps over the past year in the Black Sea, the North Sea and even in the Pacific Ocean, Breedlove said.
Citing a “revanchist Russia,” Breedlove said he favoured increasing the number of US troops in Eastern Europe on temporary deployments, in addition to measures already taken to reassure anxious partners on NATO’s eastern border.
“Because of the increased pressure that we feel in Eastern Europe right now and because of the assurance measures that we’re taking in the Baltics, in Poland, in Romania, we require additional rotational presence,” he said.
Full article: Russian military flights sending message they are ‘great power’: NATO leader (news.com.au)