Russian bombers are apparently not all that an uncommon sight in Europe. Under normal conditions, nobody would really care if the Russian military came a little too close to a European nation's airspace. Unfortunately, the world's relationship with Russia is anything but normal at the moment.
CNN is reporting that two Russian TU-95 bombers were spotted half a mile inside Dutch airspace on Wednesday. In response, the Dutch military launched a number of its own aircraft to escort the two Russian planes out of its territory. While the existence of Russian bombers inside Dutch airspace may seem like hostilities between Russia and Europe has heightened, the Dutch military doesn't seem to think that way. A spokesperson for country's military says its actions were standard protocol and that planes from Russia or other countries are found to have entered its airspace at least four times a year.
What makes this particular story more interesting is that the British also got involved as it deployed aircraft of its own to check on the unidentified aircraft flying north of its airspace. It was found to be the same two Russian aircraft and the British military took over escort duties from the Dutch at that point. The British military says that the Russian bombers never entered its airspace, but rather remained in international airspace.
In a separate, seemingly unrelated event, the British also intercepted a Russian naval ship as it moved past Britain. The British military said it was a standard event and that it has "always routinely intercepted, identified and escorted Russian air and naval assets that transit international airspace and waters within the UK's 'area of interest.'" Now it's keeping an eye on the ship as it moves South.
So, why all the tension if all this is standard protocol? If you've been following the news in and around Russia for the past few months, you'd know that the situation in the Ukraine has gotten out of hand. Pro-Russian and other forces are battling within the country to determine whether or not the people of the country want to become a part of Russia again. Russia has already sent troops to the country's border and some think it's going to invade sooner or later. The Western world is having none of it and has promised consequences for an invasion. Russia has responded that it will take appropriate action in the event that its interests in the Ukraine were threatened.
For now, we can just accept the existence of Russian bombers in and around European airspace as just a standard occurrence. There's no need to get worried just yet.
Image via Wikimedia Commons