08:14 GMT20 June 2021
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    In late May, Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu warned the NATO military threat near the country's borders is growing as the alliance is increasing the intensity of its strategic aviation flights, the presence of warships with cruise missiles, and the number of military exercises.

    America's strategic B-52 bombers recently flying a mission over 30 NATO and allied nations in North America and Europe "sends message to Russia", CNN has reported.

    Monday's flyover was part of NATO's "Operation Allied Sky" which involved almost 100 aircraft from 22 NATO member states taking part in massive drills.

    CNN cited B-52 pilot Todd Berglund as saying that during the drills, they were refuelling their warplane, conducting "a NATO op in NATO airspace".

    "We pretty much just try to make sure that we're enabling their [alliance] mission and they can do whatever they need to do", Berglund said.

    He spoke after General Jeff Harrigian, commander of NATO Allied Air Command, US Air Forces in Europe, and US Air Forces Africa, described bomber missions as something that demonstrate "the credibility of our [NATO] forces to address a global security environment that is more diverse and uncertain than at any other time in our history".

    "Today's mission is an awesome demonstration of NATO air superiority and together there is no challenge we cannot tackle", the general noted.

    The remarks followed statements made late last month by Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, stating that in response to actions taken by NATO nations, led by the US, the Russian Defence Ministry will create around 20 new formations and military units in the Western Military District by the end of this year. 

    "The actions of our Western colleagues destroy the global security systems and force us to take adequate countermeasures. We're constantly upgrading the combat composition of our troops", Shoigu said, referring to NATO's growing military threat near Russia's borders.

    "The situation in the western strategic direction [of Russia] is characterised by an increase in military threats. Over the past seven years, the intensity of US Air Force strategic bomber aviation flights in Europe has increased 14 times", the minister pointed out.

    He also said that NATO warships with cruise missiles often enter the Baltic Sea, as NATO and the US continue to expand the scope of operational and combat training near the nation's borders.

    NATO aircraft have intensified reconnaissance activities near the Russian border since the end of 2020, with the last such incident occurring in May, when a Russian plane intercepted an American reconnaissance aircraft over the Pacific Ocean.

    Moscow has repeatedly warned that such frequent flights by US and NATO aircraft near Russia's borders pose the risk of an accidental escalation.

    Tags:
    flyover, mission, B-52, NATO, US, Russia
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