The Russians are pushing the envelope in regard to violating an agreement that is intended to prevent accidental clashes in the air over Syria and the Pentagon isn’t happy about it. The US has accused Russia of intentionally violating this agreement following another recent unsafe encounter between US F-22s and Russian Su-25 ground attack jets.
“Russia is failing to genuinely de-conflict airspace in Syria. Some of these incidents are not mistakes,” Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana W. White told CNN.
“We are working to address this issue at the highest levels,” she added.
The Pentagon’s statement comes just days after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said it was unclear why the Russians were violating the agreement, which separates Russian and US-led coalition forces operating in Syria.
“I don’t expect perfection, but I don’t expect dangerous maneuvers, either,” Mattis told reporters Friday when asked about the recent violations of the de-confliction line, suggesting that some of the violations may have been due to pilot error.
“One Su-25 flew close enough to an F-22A that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” US Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told CNN last week, saying the US planes conducted multiple maneuvers, released chaff and flares, and made “multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement last week denying its planes crossed the de-confliction line, saying the incident took place west of the Euphrates River.
The agreement states the Russians are to operate west of the Euphrates River and are supposed to coordinate via a hotline to the US or coalition troops when they intend on crossing it. Any suggestion that it could be pilot error was erased when Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian troops were acting responsibly, and the US had no legal justification to be there.
The 6-8 “pilot errors” every day that the Russians are conducting are no mistake. They’re pushing and attempting to get our troops out of Syria. This has all the makings to be a dangerous precedent.
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