Iceland Counters U.S. Military Claims of ‘Russian Flights’*
Iceland’s foreign ministry countered U.S. defense department claims that Russia has increased activity around the country and that it is interested in “military cooperation.”
The U.S. government attempted to convince Iceland to accept a higher U.S. 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.
“The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland, but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights,” U.S. deputy defense secretary Bob Work told DefenseNews earlier in September.
However, the U.S. 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’s foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson countered, saying that interest in NATO air defences in Iceland is coming entirely from the side of the U.S.
The U.S. has recently increased its military involvement in Northern Europe, citing what deputy defence secretary Bob Work called “a resurgent Russia.”