U.S. Forces Intercept Russian War Planes

NATO announced on February 4 that  Russian military aircraft were intercepted by US F-15 fighter jets, along with Norwegian and British aircraft, inside NATO-patrolled airspace. The Russians returned to their own airspace after the encounter; it is believed that the flight was meant to test NATO’s response. 3,000 American troops are moving into Eastern European countries in response to the threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian planes intercepted in NATO airspace

The US fighters were called in response to a flight of Russian aircraft through NATO-controlled airspace over the Baltic Sea.

Norwegian and British aircraft also intercepted Russian planes in the region. Norwegian F-35 fighters had already shadowed Russian planes over the North Sea the day before.

None of the encounters resulted in any violence, but tensions between NATO and Russia are already high and confrontations between the two sides could become dangerous.

NATO claims that the Russians are preparing for an imminent invasion of Ukraine. Russia is anxious about the spread of NATO closer to its borders.

The possibility of Ukraine joining NATO has been especially concerning for Moscow, given that the military alliance would then be entrenched along its western border.

NATO has responded to Russia’s anger by threatening to make its expanded military presence in the region long-term.

NATO military buildup continues

The US has sent 1,000 troops from Germany to Romania in response to the threat, with another 2,000 being sent from the US to Germany and Poland.

NATO officials have made it clear that their military buildup in Eastern Europe is directly in response to Moscow’s actions, but the alliance is still being cautious, despite its stern verbal responses to Russia.

Moving too many troops to the region might trigger an invasion  of Ukraine if Vladimir Putin feels that their presence is becoming a significant threat.

NATO forces are unlikely to be deployed to Ukraine itself, so their presence in practice is unlikely to dissuade Putin if other options fail.

Those other options will be somewhat limited, given that economic sanctions strong enough to really threaten Russia would be likely to do as much damage to the European NATO allies.

The Russians are likely hoping to keep NATO on edge with the North Sea and Baltic incursions; for now they have the initiative and NATO can only respond.

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