US Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work took Russia to task for its recent behaviour in the Nordic-Baltic Region at a press conference following a meeting with eight delegates from the region on 7 October 2016.Finland said two Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jets violated its airspace on separate occasions in the Gulf of Finland south of Porvoo that same day.Russian military aviation over the Baltic Sea has been intense,Finland noted;while Iceland had complained that two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers flew too close to civilian airliners,flying between 1800-2700 meters/6,000-9,000 feet below a flight from Reykjavik,Iceland to Stockholm,Sweden.
There is absolutely no justification for it,Secretary Work said.Regardless of the timing,regardless of the circumstances,these are unsatisfactory manoeuvres that are unsafe and unprofessional.Hopefully we'll be able to see a moderation in them to avoid an accident or a tragic occurrence.Unfortunately,these are becoming the norm rather than the exception.*
Attending the US-Nordic-Baltic forum were Denmark,Estonia,Finland,Iceland,Latvia,Lithuania,Norway and Sweden.The forum dealt with regional security issues such as Russian behaviour in the Baltic Sea and ways to increase defence cooperation-including in the War On ISIL.*
Preceding the forum,the French Ministry of Defence revealed that,on 22 September 2016,four NATO Allies had scrambled fighter jets to intercept two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers:
1.The extraordinary chase began when Norway scrambled two F-16 Fighting Falcons to escort the Blackjacks towards the north of Scotland.
2.The British sent Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth to intercept the Russian bombers and shadow them around the west of Scotland and Ireland.As a precaution,more Typhoons were scrambled from RAF Coningsly in Lincolnsire,but didn't intercept the Blackjacks in the end.
3.Two French Rafale fighters then intercepted the Russians 100 km off the Britanny coast.Two other Rafales took over as the bombers headed south.
4.Finally,two Spanish F-18s shadowed the Blackjacks north of Bilbao,at which point the Russians turned around and flew home.*
Russia has also deployed its Iskander-M mobile nuclear-capable missile system to its territory of Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast,which is wedged between Poland and Lithuania.Poland said this was very alarming and of the highest concern;but Russia insists it is only an exercise and has been done before.