Russian fighter jets have been flying over US air bases almost every day this month in an attempt to “provoke a reaction” from the US, a top American commander has warned. It comes as tensions between the two nations are close to boiling point.
Officials have warned that Vladimir Putin is violating deconfliction agreements between the US and Russia.
Lt Gen Alexus Grynkewich, a commander for US Central Command, told NBC News: “It’s an uncomfortable situation.”
He also warned that Russia’s actions “increase the risk of miscalculation”.
Meanwhile, Atlantic Security council researcher Ruslan Trad said Russia’s escalations may be linked to Moscow’s recent backing from China.
He told The New Arab that the development was fuelled, at least in part, by the Kremlin’s recent discussions with Beijing.
He said: “This is cleverly provoking the US. Such accidents are affecting any positive outcome, if any, in the Syrian context.”
Russia, he believes, is trying to “provoke a reaction” from Washington, emboldened by the recent meeting between Putin and President Xi, who spoke about their growing “friendship”.
In the first three weeks of the month, Russian jets have entered US air space over the Syrian garrison base 25 times.
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There were zero incidents of Russia flying over US military bases in February. But there were 14 incidents in January.
Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich said: “It is a substantial increase.”
He said Russia is currently “on track to be double what it has been in the past”.
Grynewich – who is in charge of air operations for the region – said the actions violate a four-year-old agreement between the two countries and could lead to future issues.
It comes after Russian jets downed a US drone, and dumped fuel on it, last week over the Black Sea.
Russian officials said they didn’t recognise the area as US air space.
In a 2019 agreement, Russian and US military officials both stated any overflight of each other’s ground bases or sites would not be considered acceptable.
But that no longer seems to be the case as Grynkewich said: “The Russians have over the last several months seemed to abandon that tenet of the protocols.”
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