Russia Starts Combat Helicopter Training Flights near the Baltic Border

[notice noticeType=”info”] MI28N battle helicopter | Photo: RIAN. By Sergey Venyavski
RIA Novosti reported that a newly formed Russian army helicopter brigade has begun training flights in the northwest region of the country near the borders with the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, a spokesman for the Western Military District said Wednesday. All it is happening when the crisis in Ukraine is far from to be solved. During the last two month NATO also reinforced it military power in the region.

“Helicopters of the army aviation brigade of the Western Military District, based in the Pskov region, have begun regular training flights in the skies over northwestern Russia”, Col. Oleg Kochetkov said.

Kochetkov also announced that the flights involve dozens of Mi-28N Night Hunter and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters as well as Mi-8MTV-5 and Mi-26T combat transport helicopters.

The 15th army aviation brigade was formed in last December and it based at the Ostrov airbase, it is fully equipped with new, recently-built helicopters. The brigade currently comprises three helicopter squadrons, with two more to be added in the near future.

Media in the former Soviet Baltic states, as well as Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom, have expressed security concerns about Russia’s decision to station the 15th brigade near NATO’s borders.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier announced the beginning of military drills of units from the Southern and Western military districts near the borders with Ukraine and the Baltic states in response to an “unprecedented” increase of NATO military activity near Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis.

The combat drills come as NATO is increasing up its military presence in the region.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced earlier this month that the alliance would intensify air patrols over Eastern Europe and dispatch extra ships to the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas due to the crisis in Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO was attempting to use the Ukrainian crisis as an imaginary threat to unite the alliance’s members and to push for Moscow’s isolation.

Beside that, NATO called that Russia is a provocative country. After two decades that NATO attempts to build a partnership with Russia, now finds it necessary to start treating Moscow as an opponent. his statement was made by Deputy Secretary General of NATO , former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow. “Obviously, the Russians declared NATO as an opponent, so we must to stop to consider Russia as a partner, but as an opponent”  announced the Associated Press in the interview with Vershbow.

According to Vershbow, annexation of Crimea by Russia is a “manipulation”. The crisis in Eastern Ukraine is the main reason for the cold relations between NATO and Russia. So far, NATO does not plan to get involved into the crisis since Ukraine is not part of NATO.

Vershbow also said that among the possible actions that NATO will do is the deployment of a larger number of allied combat forces in Eastern Europe in permanently or on a rotating basis.



Source:  RIAN


Aleksejus Podpruginas
Aleksejus Podpruginas is The Baltic Review author based in Israel

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