Russian, Belarus AFs demonstrate reaction to NATO eastward expansion

Baltic News Service
April 7, 2004



Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Mikhailov said that the
joint Russian-Belarus north-western air forces were capable of
reacting adequately to accession of the Baltic States to NATO.

“Our north-western air forces are capable of reacting adequately to
the actions taken. At the present time the Northwestern Air Forces do
not require any reinforcements,” Mikhailov told reporters on
Wednesday, commenting on the deployment of four NATO aircraft in the
Baltic States.

The Russian Air Force commander-in-chief is supervising the command
post exercise of the CIS Unified Air Defense System. “It has been
proved once again that the CIS Unified Air Defense System is very
reliable,” Mikhailov said.

He said that as of 11:30 a.m. Moscow time (0730 GMT) a total of seven
simulated air targets have been detected, tracked, and destroyed
within the framework of the exercise. “All the targets were
represented by aircraft,” Mikhailov clarified.

He said that the A-50 AWACS aircraft, participating in the exercise,
was operating over Dagestan. “It was supposed to have been deployed
over Armenia, but later on it was decided that the aircraft would
operate over the Russian territory, as Georgia had provided an air
corridor too late. At the present time it is operating at such an
altitude, which allows it to monitor the Armenian airspace as well,”
Mikhailov said.

The Baltic states joined the NATO alliance on March 29 with NATO
fighter jets deployed at the Zokniai air base in northern Lithuania
on the same day for patrolling the Baltic skies, causing negative
reaction on behalf of Russian politicians.