LEUCHARS, April 24 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – The United Kingdom is trying to exploit routine military maneuvers between the Russian and the British military for political reasons linked to the crisis in Ukraine, a Scottish MP told RIA Novosti.
A Scottish Member of Parliament, John Finnie, commented on remarks by UK Defence Minister Phillip Hammond, who said in an emailed statement to RIA Novosti earlier in the day that the crisis in the Ukraine had placed his country on an increased level of awareness.
“Hammond is no friend of Scotland. His remarks suggest a poor attempt at conflating this routine occurrence with other political issues,” Finnie said.
Hammond’s remark was made in connection with the UK Ministry of Defence’s earlier announcement that fighter jets were scrambled from RAF Leuchars to investigate “the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the NATO Air Policing Area in the north of Scotland.”
“We have always routinely intercepted, identified and escorted Russian air and naval assets that transit international airspace and waters within the UK’s ‘area of interest,” Hammond said.
An MOD spokesman said in a statement given to RIA Novosti that the military aircraft, identified as Russian, “remained in international airspace at all times as they are perfectly entitled to do so.”
“Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation,” he said.
The spokesman also confirmed that a Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Dragon, had been deployed from England to intercept the Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov which is sailing in international waters off the coast of Scotland.
“In what is a well-established and standard response, a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer met its Russian counterpart and is now keeping an eye on its transit south,” the spokesman added.
The Russian Defense Ministry has insisted that the flights are carried out “in strict accordance with international regulations” and do not violate the borders of other countries.