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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization reports that yesterday the military bloc scrambled fighter jets ten times over the North Atlantic (for once adhering to its name), North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea, intercepting a reported six groups of Russian bombers and fighters. That is, across the entire western flank of Russia.
Although the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was actually active in part of the North Atlantic for a change – rather than the Balkans, Afghanistan, Central and South Asia, North and Northeast Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Caribbean Sea and its other haunts of the past 25 years – the global military alliance grudgingly conceded, at the end of the article on the topic of course, that “The Russian aircraft intercepted on Monday never entered Alliance airspace.”
Alliance airspace is now in twelve nations, though decidedly in five: the five NATO members that now border Russia – Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – and seven NATO partners: Finland, Belarus (still a member of the Partnership for Peace), Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. During the Cold War the Soviet Union shared only one short border with a NATO member (there were no NATO partners then; there are now forty with more to come), a 120-mile border with Norway.
On Russia’s western, southern and eastern borders. Including the High North (NATO’s term for the Arctic) – “In the High North, Norwegian F-16s scrambled after radars spotted two groups of Russian military aircraft flying near Norway’s coast” – that would establish all four compass points around Russia as NATO airspace and that of its partners.
Not only Norwegian warplanes were dispatched against Russian aircraft which “never entered Alliance airspace,” but fighter jets from no less than six other NATO member states were deployed against them as well: Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania and Turkey.
Intercepting Russian military aircraft ten times over one ocean and three seas in one day, boasted Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at (NATO) Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany, “demonstrate[d] NATO forces’ readiness and capability to guard Allied skies 24 hours a day,