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Iceland Counters US Military Claims of 'Russian Flights'

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Iceland's foreign ministry countered US defense department claims that Russia has increased activity around the country and that it is interested in "military cooperation."

The US government attempted to convince Iceland to accept a higher US military presence over what it called increased Russian military flights in the region, Icelandic media reported.

Iceland's foreign ministry released figures showing that Russian military flights anywhere near the country's airspace have actually decreased more than five times compared to 2007. None of the flights breached Icelandic airspace.

A Swedish soldier with the International Security Assistance Force patrols. - Sputnik International
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"The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland, but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights," US deputy defense secretary Bob Work told DefenseNews earlier in September.

However, the US military's claims do not match up with Iceland's own figures, which show that Russia only made two flights anywhere near the country's airspace in 2015.

"Iceland is interested in increasing military cooperation," Work added.

Iceland's foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson countered, saying that interest in NATO air defenses in Iceland is coming entirely from the side of the US.

The US has recently increased its military involvement in Northern Europe, citing what deputy defense secretary Bob Work called "a resurgent Russia."

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