U.K. air force scrambles two fighters to intercept Russian jets
Britain’s Royal Air Force scrambled two fighter jets to intercept Russian strategic bombers near U.K. airspace Jan. 125, in another illustration of ongoing tensions.
The RAF confirmed that it sent Typhoon aircraft from the Lossiemouth base in Scotland on a “quick reaction alert” as two Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bombers approached Britain.
“The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea,” the air force said. “At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign U.K. airspace.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the pair of bombers flew over the Barents, Norwegian and North seas during a 13-hour training mission that covered neutral waters, in line with international norms.
“All flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict accordance with international rules for using airspace without infringement on any countries’ borders,” the ministry said in a statement.
Encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes have become increasingly frequent as Moscow has demonstrated its resurgent military might.
Russia also has increased its navy’s presence in the Mediterranean and other areas.
Last week, the HMS Westminster, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, was ordered to intercept two Russian corvettes and two supporting vessels that neared U.K. waters en route to their Baltic base. AP
Russian military conducts massive missile drills
The Russian military is conducting massive drills involving truck-mounted intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.
The Defense Ministry said maneuvers involving Topol-M and Yars missile launchers began Jan. 15.
Those types of nuclear-tipped ICBMs are mounted on heavy all-terrain vehicles, making it more difficult for an enemy to spot them. The ministry said the drills are being conducted across a vast area from the Ivanovo region just northeast of Moscow to the Irkutsk region in eastern Siberia.
It said the exercise will focus on the deployment of missiles and fending off possible attacks by enemy scouts, but will not involve practice launches.
The maneuvers are the latest in a steady series of Russian military drills. Russia’s armed forces have intensified their combat training amid tensions with NATO over Ukraine. AP
NATO chief: UN convention won’t rid world of nuclear arms
NATO’s secretary general says the military alliance supports the idea of a world without nuclear weapons, but doesn’t believe it can be achieved by imposing a ban through the United Nations convention on nuclear weapons.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a speech at a security conference in Sweden Jan. 14 that ridding the world of nuclear weapons requires a period of “painful disarmament” that the U.N. convention cannot guarantee.
Stoltenberg’s message was clearly directed to the Swedish government, which is divided on whether to sign the convention.
The NATO chief told Swedish media earlier that Sweden, which is not a NATO member, could find its cooperative relationship with the alliance weakened if it does.
Pope Francis last week called on nations to work toward a binding nuclear weapons ban. AP