THE Russian military is spending 'hours' in airspace near Alaska during flight operations in a 'power competition' with the US, a military chief has revealed.
The increased military activity in the area is attributed to Russia's expanding activities, according to Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck.
"We’re back in the peer competition," he said during a Defense Writers Group discussion.
"Clearly, Russia is trying to reassert on a global stage their influence and their capabilities. That’s exactly what’s going on.
"It’s great power competition, " he added.
"The difference between the past and now is the intercepts are more complex – multi-access, multi-platforms and often times they’ll enter the [air defense identification zone] and stay for hours.
"That would be the significant difference. But why this is ongoing? It is playing out as the peer competition that we’ve talked about."
Earlier this month, VanHerck who also leads US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told senators that the US and Canada have responded to more of those flights in 2020 than in any year since the Cold War.
"These Russian military operations include multiple flights of heavy bombers, anti-submarine aircraft, and intelligence collection platforms near Alaska.
"These efforts show both Russia’s military reach and how they rehearse potential strikes on our homeland.
"Last summer, the Russian Navy focused its annual OCEAN SHIELD exercise on the defense of Russia’s maritime approaches in the Arctic and Pacific," he said.
"The multi-fleet exercise, intended in part to demonstrate Russia’s ability to control access to the Arctic through the Bering Strait, included amphibious landings on the Chukotka Peninsula opposite Alaska, as well as anti-submarine patrols and anti-ship cruise missile launches from within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone," he added.
When asked about the recent Russian activity in the Arctic he said: "We’ve closely partnered with NATO and [U.S. European Command] as far as the bomber task force and conducting operations that show our capability as those forces return home as well.
"And the GIDE experiment that we just did as well helps get after the capabilities.
"But I’m aware of what you’re talking about and I would tie that back to global power – great power competition and again, strategic messaging," he said. "That’s what that is."
Earlier this week, there was an "unusual peak" of Russian flights in the North Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic and the Black Sea and Nato fighter jets intercepted six groups of Russian planes in six hours, the BBC reported.
According to Nato, the Russian military aircrafts did not transmit transponder codes and essentially posed a potential risk to civilian flights.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged for Russia to resume dialogue.
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