A US naval ship was sailing in the Baltic Sea. She was in international waters. This ship was buzzed by a Russian warplane several times. This was filmed. There is no question as to what occurred. The Russian aircraft came within 9 m of the warship. This was highly dangerous and against a 1970s agreement. This agreement was intended to avoid accident and untoward incidents.
The Kremlin has not condemned the very dangerous actions of the pilot. He jeopardised his life and that of the sailors. Instead they said that the US naval unit was behaving aggressively. It was not. It was in international waters. It is the old trick of accusing one’s foe of one’s own vice. The Kremlin also said that the ship was near a Russian naval base. If it was it was not THAT near. This ship was not in Russian territorial waters. How near did the plane come to the US naval ship? There is no question that it was Putin’s man who was in the wrong here and the US Navy behaved correctly. John Kerry, US Secretary of State, even said the US Navy would have been within its rights to shoot down the Russian plane but chose not to do so. The US behaved with restraint, dignity and magnanimity.
Russian foreign policy consists of constant goading of other countries. Yet there is a hissy fit whenever this is criticised. Moscow wishes to test the willpower of NATO countries. How will they respond?
There is no need for this tension. V V Putin is on a collision course with NATO countries. His puerile chauvinism is supported by a large section of his people. He wishes to distract people from their real problems such as long term economic decline, the actions of the robber barons, petty crime, low life expectancy and the failure to provide good public services.
A sensible Russian President would not engage in such needless taunting. An amicable relationship with NATO countries could be achieved. Admittedly some NATO countries have sometimes pursued wrongheaded policies. Talk of admitting the Ukraine or Georgia to the EU was rash. In the case of the Ukraine it was also in breach of prior undertakings. Assisting the rebels in Syria was also ill-advised. Moreover, it overstepped the bounds of the UN Security Council Resolution on the use of force to protect civilians in Libya from Gaddafi’s crew.