January 17, 2018 – FRN –
Dutch Defense Minister Anke Bajleveld said that Russian Tu-160s, which during the planned flight over the North Sea on Monday were accompanied by Belgian F-16s, tried to “frighten or provoke” Western countries, the Telegraaf newspaper reported .
“I believe this is a form of intimidation or provocation,” Bajleveld said. According to her, the actions of the aircraft may also be an attempt by the Russian Air Force to look at the Western country’s response from time to time. In this case, the defense department of the kingdom is not concerned, because they were “well aware of the incident” and their “system worked well.”
Earlier, Belgian media reported that two Belgian F-16 fighters were instructed to escort two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers heading toward Britain. According to the Belgian Ministry of Defense, the interception took place in the Netherlands zone of responsibility for NATO airspace. According to their statement, the Belgian aircraft “accompanied the Russian aircraft until the mission was taken over by the (British) Royal Air Force.”
The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation said that two strategic missile carriers Tu-160 carried out a planned flight over the neutral waters of the Barents Sea, Norwegian and Northern Seas, stressing that the flights are carried out without violating the borders of other states.
The department added that at some stage along the route, the Russian aircraft became aware of being accompanied by the Typhoon fighters of the British Air Force and F-16 of the Belgian Air Force.