August 2, 2010

Dictator Watch - Aug 2, 2010 Russian Invasion

The Dictator Watch hasn't been my focus of late, since President Obama's domestic agenda has overshadowed his foreign relations shortcomings.  Some things cannot be ignored however.

Russia is testing President Obama's resolve.  Luckily, Canada responded instead;
Canada's Department of National Defense said its jets had intercepted two Russian bombers near Canadian airspace on Wednesday, the latest in a series of such incidents over the past few years.

The two TU-95 bombers were a few hundred nautical miles east of Goose Bay in the province of Newfoundland, Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Friday in an interview on CTV television. The Russian planes didn't enter Canadian airspace and turned back without incident, said a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Mr. MacKay said there have been roughly 50 such incidents during the past three years, as Russia probes Arctic airspace near Canada. Mr. MacKay said his government has requested notice from Russia when its planes come so close.

"We are going to be there to meet and greet them every time," he said.
Russia is denying that one of its aircraft approached Canadian airspace three days before U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ottawa on Feb 19.

Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday that Canadian CF-18 fighter jets at Cold Lake, Alta., scrambled to intercept the plane on Feb. 16 after North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) detected the Russian Bear long-range bomber headed for Canada.

The aircraft never did enter North American airspace.

MacKay confirmed the incident at a news conference in Ottawa with the chief of the defence staff, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, and the commander of Norad, Gen. Gene Renuart.

However, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevskiy said Friday the planned flight of the Russian long-range strategic aircraft was part of "regular military training and air patrol plans in the northern latitudes.

"All the international flights regulations were strictly respected," he said in a statement. "Therefore, the very possibility of a violation of Canadian airspace is out of [the] question. The adjacent countries were informed of that flight in good time."

Yevgeniy Khorishko, a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Washington, also appeared to downplay the incident.

"It was a routine flight over international airspace," he told CBC News.

Obama arrived in Ottawa on Feb. 19 to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He spent six hours in the nation's capital.

MacKay told reporters he wasn't accusing Russia of deliberately timing the flight to coincide with the visit — when Canadian security was focused in Ottawa — but he did call it "a strong coincidence, which we met with … CF-18 fighter planes and world-class pilots that know their business."

"[The pilots] sent a strong signal they should back off and stay out of our airspace."
While Russia was quick to dismiss the event, clearly there was an issue. Canada's conservative government - the same one that walked out on Ahmedinejad's U.N. 'speech' - have been quick to respond and have answered with resolve on more than one occasion. Good for them.

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