Al-Awsat, 14 May 2017
Moscow- The race between Russia and the United States for dominance in the Arctic region risks heating up the dispute between them.
Since 2013, Russia has been interested in consolidating its military presence in the area. Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister, is presiding over the re-opening or creation of several military facilities, some of which will be ready by the year’s end.
The Russian moves have prompted US Senator Dan Sullivan to call for more US military presence in the northern areas of the State of Alaska.
He told the German News Agency (DPA) in an interview that Russia, whose territory lies only 100 kilometers away from Alaska, has made military improvements in the area.
He warned that Russia is making a huge military expansion there, saying its airplanes overflew the area at least five times in a month.
Sullivan also called for sending new US icebreakers there.
Earlier in the week, a Russian fighter jet intercepted a US reconnaissance plane over the Black Sea. Moscow refused to consider it a “risk.”
“The Kremlin does not think that the interception was an unjustified risk,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
“No, the Kremlin does not think so,” the presidential spokesman said in reply to the relevant question.
US President Donald Trump had said during his presidential campaign that Russian warplanes should be brought down if they pose a threat to US fighter jets.
Earlier NBC reported citing the US Navy that a Russian fighter jet flew within 20 feet of a US Navy P-8A Poseidon over the Black Sea. The US aircraft “was conducting routine operations in international airspace,” according to Captain Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for US Naval Forces Europe.
The interaction was considered safe and professional by the US aircraft’s commander, she said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed that the US surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Russian Su-30 fighter jet over the Black Sea.
“The Russian fighter jet performed a maneuver of ‘greeting’ for the US pilots and after that the US surveillance plane changed the flight route towards moving from the border with Russia. The Su-30 fighter jet safely returned to its base airfield,” the ministry said.
This incident was not the first between the US and Russia. Last month, Fox News quoted US officials as saying that for two consecutive nights, Russia flew two long-range bombers off the coast of Alaska, coming within 36 miles of the mainland while flying north of the Aleutian Islands.
The two nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers were spotted by US military radar.