Brits buzz Russian cargo planes off the coast of Russia -- London defense minister calls it an 'act of Russian aggression'
This Thursday the government of the United Kingdom once more stood in defense of civilization and the little guy, and stood up to a terrible danger emanating from the east. Afterwards the British Defense Minister Michael Fallon could rightly proudly proclaim:
"This is another example of just how important the UK’s contribution to the Baltic Air Policing Mission is. We were able to instantly respond to this act of Russian aggression - demonstration of our commitment to NATO’s collective defence."
What was this "act of Russian aggression" the Brits so bravely and instantly responded to?
The jets, which deployed to the region less than three weeks ago, were scrambled from Amari air base in Estonia, to intercept three Russian aircraft approaching the Baltic states. The military transport aircraft identified as AN-26 ‘Curl, AN-12 ‘Cub’ and IL-76 ‘Candid’ were intercepted as they were not transmitting a recognised identification code and were unresponsive.
The great act of Russian aggression consisted of three unarmed and unescorted lumbering cargo planes "approaching the Baltic states".
Doubtlessly the Russians never crossed into the airspace of the Baltic states or the UK gov't would have said so. The Russians' aggression of "approaching" we're left with is obviously ludicrous. It's impossible to approach and land in Russia's Kaliningrad or Saint Petersburg without also "approaching" the nearby non-Russian territories.
Most likely the Russians were hauling cargo to their Kaliningrad exclave and switched off their transponders to mess with the Brits and make them spend fuel. That's mischievous of the Russians but it's hardly "aggression".
In fact let's recall that a few weeks before when Russian fighters intercepted a US RC-135 "intelligence gathering jet" (likewise with its transponders turned off) NATO's spin was that Russians were obviously insane since the spy plane had been on a routine mission in international space.
So how's that logic for you? British planes taking off from Estonia to intercept unarmed Russian cargo planes just off the coast of Russia isn't aggressive Brits harassing Russians on their doorstep. It's valiant and necessary for the plucky Englishmen "to instantly respond" to such "Russian aggression".
Meanwhile US spy planes incessantly surveilling Russia's coastline over 6,000 kilometres away from any American territory is nothing to get worked up and the Russians are obviously paranoid for being intolerant of it.