SWEDEN’S top military commander says Russian fighter pilots are behaving in an increasingly aggressive manner in northern Europe, flying dangerously close to Swedish air force jets and in some cases even releasing flares at them.
Supreme Commander Sverker Goransson told a seminar on the Swedish island of Gotland on Monday that the Russians are breaking the normal rules of conduct for when military aircraft meet in the air.
He said examples include Russian planes breaking formation, flying at unsafe distances and using “countermeasures” that “nearly bounce off the metal” of the Swedish aircraft.
The Swedish military on Tuesday confirmed he was talking about decoy flares designed to divert incoming missiles.
Goransson said he believes their behaviour is “sanctioned at the highest level. Otherwise they wouldn’t act this way.”
NATO is also considering how to respond to the threats posed by an increasingly “bold” and “aggressive” Russia.
The 28-member defence alliance’s naval forces met in London this week to discuss Russia’s maritime operations.
“Russian international maritime presence has grown significantly in recent years, specifically since the Ukraine crisis erupted in 2014,” senior NATO commander General Adrian Bradshaw, told the London conference.
“The Russian Federation is shadowing and presumably collecting intelligence from NATO nation naval units in the Baltic, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, using methods that can be considered bold and sometimes aggressive,” he said.
NATO will from September to November launch its largest exercises in more than two decades, in regions including the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
In a rare move, the US military released a video last month of a Russian Su-24 bomber flying past an American warship in the Black Sea, while Sweden last year launched a massive hunt for a suspected Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago.
Russia is upgrading its naval capabilities, and in May unveiled designs for two new major warships, a multipurpose heavy aircraft carrier called the “Shtorm” and a new class of destroyer called the “Shkval”.
The United States is infuriating its Middle East allies by blocked their attempts to supply heavy weapons directly to Kurds fighting militants from the so-called Islamic State terror group in Iraq.
As a result, American allies are accusing US President Barack Obama of failing to show leadership in the fight against one of the greatest threats to global security.
Frustrated US allies say they are willing to "go it alone" in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi and American authorities, who demand all weapons be channeled through Baghdad, British newspaper the Telegraph reported.
"If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating ISIL, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat," a senior Arab government official told the paper.
With ISIL making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face."
The Peshmerga, the military forces of Iraqi Kurdistan, have successfully fought off the Islamic State (IS), even though the Kurds are using out-of-date Soviet weapons. Meanwhile, millions of dollars of weapons – purchased by European countries to arm the Kurds – sit unused because American commanders block the arms transfers, the Telegraph reported.
Moreover, the Iraqi army continues to abandon American-supplied weapons which eventually fall into the hands of IS militants.
US allies, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, complain that American leaders have no clear strategy for an airstrike campaign. At the same time, other coalition members say they have identified clear IS targets, but the US has prevented them from firing, the Telegraph reported.
"There is simply no strategic approach," one senior Gulf official told the paper. "There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating ISIL."
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