WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Canadian and U.S. jets escorted two Russian strategic bombers that entered American airspace near Alaska on Friday, away from the area.
- NORAD commander General Terrence O’Shaughnessy stated that protecting Canada and the U.S. by identifying aircraft of interest entering American airspace is the agency’s top priority.
- However, the Russian Defense Ministry said the mission was just a 15-hour scheduled routine flight over neutral waters.
On Saturday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) revealed that two U.S. F-22 and two Canadian CF-18 stopped two nuclear-capable Russian aircraft that entered American airspace close to Alaska on Friday. Both Canadian and U.S. fighter jets escorted the Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers away from the zone patrolled by Canada’s Royal Air Force.
According to Radio Free Europe, in a statement from NORAD Commander General Terrence O’Shaughnessy he said that defending Canada and the United States is NORAD’s top priority.
“Our ability to protect our nations starts with successfully detecting, tracking, and positively identifying aircraft of interest approaching U.S. and Canadian airspace,” the commander added.
Actually, the mission according to the Russian Defense Ministry was a routine scheduled flight over neutral waters.
Reported by Russia’s Tass news agency, the ministry said, “crews of two Tu-160 strategic bombers completed a scheduled flight over neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean on Saturday and practiced refueling,” adding that the flight took more than 15 hours.
RadioFree Europe has reported that in recent years, related encounters between NATO aircraft and the Russian military have escalated. Russia has been working to strengthen its military power and pushed back more strongly against the U.S. and NATO under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin.
Due to a range of international issues, tensions have remained elevated between Washington and Moscow. Washington and NATO alleged that Moscow’s 9M729 nuclear-capable cruise missile system violated the terms of the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Because of the violation with Russia refusing to destroy the defense system, the U.S. is now about to withdraw from the agreement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters earlier this month that this is a part of the plan where Russia is testing and modernizing its nuclear weapons.
“I think the whole idea is for Russia to try to be able to reestablish a sphere of influence where they can try to intimidate and control some of their neighbors,” he added.
While the Doomsday Clock remains set just two minutes from Armageddon, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Rachel Bronson said that although the reality that is being described remains unchanged from 2018, this setting should be taken as “a stark warning to leaders and citizens around the world.”
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 to keep tabs on how close the world is coming to nuclear annihilation.