Russian Air Force Chief Accuses West of Probing Air Defenses : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2001, 6:32 PM Moscow Time

Air Force Chief Accuses West of Probing Air Defenses

The Associated Press

Russia's air force chief Wednesday accused the West of sending spy planes to probe Russian borders, saying that his forces track up to three such flights every day.

In one example, NATO planes were especially active last Thursday over the Barents Sea, coming as close as few kilometers to the Russian border, Gen. Amatoly Kornukov said, according to Russian news agencies.

On the same day, an unidentified balloon that flew from Finland was spotted in northwestern Russia, he said. "Air defense forces in the northwest were in high tension for three or four hours," he said.

Last year, air defense forces spotted and tracked about 1,000 foreign spy planes near Russia's borders, mostly in the northwestern region and the Far East, but none of them were reported to have violated Russian borders.

Kornukov again denied Japan's claim that Russian military aircraft violated its airspace last week, saying the claim might have resulted from a mistake of a Japanese radar operator.

He also criticized Norwegian pilots for flying dangerously close to two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers that flew along the coast of Norway last week.

Kornukov said that the Norwegian fighters came within 10-15 meters of the bombers. "We never do that," he said.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 22, 2001

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