Top Russian General Warns against NATO Aggressiveness Aimed at Russia
Sept. 26, 2020 (EIRNS)—Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, warned yesterday following the conclusion of the Kavkaz 2020 exercise that U.S. and NATO forces are exercising ever closer to the borders of Russia, often as close as 20-30 km from the border. “The United States and NATO are expanding their military activities not in the Atlantic or Caribbean regions, but at a distance of some 20-30 km off the Russian borders. So, NATO’s allegations about Russia’s growing aggressiveness are false,” he said.
Separately, in an interview with RT, Gerasimov charged that Russia’s calls to NATO to discuss aircraft encounters near Russia’s borders have fallen on deaf ears. As a result, Russia is retraining its pilots to make sure these frequent mid-air incidents don’t get out of hand. Russian armed forces have registered “almost 30 NATO strategic aircraft quite close to our borders” over the last month, Gerasimov said. “We are wary of these frequent U.S./NATO air missions close to our borders.”
Moscow has been tirelessly trying to raise the issue of close-call encounters in the air and at sea with top U.S. and NATO military brass, asking them “to improve the current agreements on the prevention of dangerous military activities.”
“The thing is that we already have such agreements, we’ve signed them,” Gerasimov clarified. However, some details—namely approach intervals, safe approach distances for aircraft and ships, and operational procedures—were neglected, and the overall endeavor to decrease tension was overlooked. No one has given us a response. So we can see that NATO and American military commanders are OK with this situation.”
Gerasimov cited the Sept. 4 incident over the Black Sea in which the appearance of three B-52s and numerous U.S./NATO reconnaissance aircraft triggered a major alert for Russian air defenses. U.S. European Command hailed this mission, Gerasimov observed, which, as they put it, demonstrated the U.S. and NATO’s ability to “deter Russia and assure allies and partners.” Russia “is not OK” with what is unfolding, Gerasimov said. “We don’t want any incidents that can spiral into a military conflict. That’s why our pilots and ship captains are retrained in their actions and abide by all international legal agreements.”
Indeed, there were more B-52 missions over both the Black and Baltic Seas, this week. Yesterday, Forbes military commentator David Axe gleefully reported that a pair of B-52s did a circuit around the Kaliningrad exclave. Axe reported that the two B-52s flew at 10,000 feet over the Baltic Sea, crossing over the Suwalki Gap between Kaliningrad and Belarus before turning north, passing over Sweden then heading back to the United Kingdom. While passing over Latvia, they were escorted by Italian Air Force Typhoon fighter jets deployed for the NATO air policing mission in the Baltics. “It’s unclear whether any RC-135s, Sentinels or P-8s were in the air near Kaliningrad as Baloo 51 and Baloo 52 (the radio call signs used by the B-52s)—but it’s a safe bet NATO made some effort to collect Russian signals coming from the exclave,” Axe wrote.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the B-52s were intercepted and identified from a safe distance by an Su-27 fighter jet from the Baltic Fleet’s air defense alert forces.