Russian aircraft reportedly buzzed NATO counterparts four different times last month in Europe, all in the same day, a prominent U.S. general said Thursday, according to Military Times. The actions were yet another test of the international military body as Russia has repeatedly poked and prodded NATO forces while re-enforcing its military presence near and around Europe.
The commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, Gen. Tod Wolters, said there were four different “encounters” on Feb. 10 with three Russian Su-24 jets and a fourth with Ilyushin Il-38, a maritime patrol aircraft also capable of fighting submarines. Each was a separate incident according to Wolters, who spoke at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
Wolters added that such actions have “plateaued” in the last six months and that U.S. officials had reached out to the Russians for an explanation but little information had been shared.
"Sometimes we don't get the answer we prefer," Wolters said. "Sometimes we get no answer at all."
Wolters did not say where exactly the encounters occurred or what NATO aircraft was involved.
He also described the incidents as “not similar in nature” and even admitted, when asked, that each could have been either a mistake by the Russian pilots or were possibly intentional.
Russia, as part of President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to rearrange the world’s order, had increasingly poked and prodded NATO forces and put many of the Baltic states and other countries along its western border on high alert.
Four days after the incidents described by Wolters, three Russian aircraft were intercepted by NATO forces as they flew over the Baltic Sea. Two days later similar aircraft repeated the same flyover it was believed to be a trip from Russia to Kaliningrad, a territory sitting between Poland and Lithuania that Russia has controlled since World War II.
While the U.S. has closely monitored the advancements of Russia’s military, including calling for it to open its drills with Belarus later this year to the public, the movements have worried NATO members like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to say nothing of the commercial aircraft that had also come dangerously close to Russian military planes.