In response to the Russian annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. Air Force plans to send F-35A stealth Joint Strike Fighters to reassure NATO-allies Estonia and Romania, which are located on the Russian border.
The situation with Crimea has caused the two neighboring countries, which used to belong to the Soviet Republic, to worry about the possibility of Russian aggression. This deployment of F-35A jets to Europe is part of the European Reassurance Initiative, which was set up to answer further threats and includes U.S. ground forces.
Moscow, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, sees the deployment as a threat. “This is an action that threatens our interests, our security,” he said.
Eight F-35s recently arrived in the U.K. from their base in Utah, while Russian bombers buzzed the Alaskan coast.
According to U.S. officials, American fighter jets intercepted Russian planes four times last week, although Russian officials have said that their military “regularly carries out patrol missions above the neutral waters of the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Black Sea and the Pacific Ocean.” However, officials are concerned about the recent frequency with which they’ve been appearing.
On the other hand, the U.S. says the F-35 deployment was not a reaction to any recent specific incident. “As we and our joint F-35 partners bring this aircraft into our inventories, it’s important that we train together to integrate into a seamless team capable of defending the sovereignty of allied nations,” commented Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, noting that the presence of the jets in Europe provides a visual example to European allies who already have them or want to acquire their own versions.
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