Defying Borders: Russian Jets Encroach US Airspace in Syria

A Disturbing Trend: Repeated Airspace Violations

In an unsettling revelation, US Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich disclosed a surge of Russian military aircraft invading the At Tanf Garrison (ATG) airspace in Syria during March. This alarming pattern of incursions disrupts a 4-year-old pact between the US and Russia, exacerbating already strained relations.

Remarkably, Grynkewich, tasked with overseeing air operations within the region, divulged to NBC News that Russian jets trespassed ATG’s airspace nearly 25 times this month—zero in February, and 14 in January.

Escalating Overflights: A Cause for Concern

Doubling Down on Provocations

The Lt. General elucidated that overflight occurrences have skyrocketed, with Russian jets habitually hovering within a mile of American ground forces. Tension mounts as these armed Su-34 planes, equipped with a range of munitions—radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles, and bombs—threaten the area.

The Perils of Misjudgment

Grynkewich accentuated the heightened risk of missteps, citing a recent Black Sea episode involving belligerent Russian Su-27 fighter jets and a US MQ-9 Reaper drone. While Grynkewich remains unconvinced that Russia seeks a direct conflict with the US military in Syria, their maneuvers provoke anxiety.

Breaching Agreements: Russian Disregard for Boundaries

Even as the US raises objections through the established deconfliction hotline with Russia, the Russian military remains undeterred. The 2019 pact, originally designed to avert accidental confrontations and provocation, now falters as Russia seemingly discards its adherence.

Diverting Focus: The Battle Against ISIS Under Threat

Grynkewich cautioned that although Russian overflights have not directly impeded US military operations, the potential for distraction from the anti-ISIS campaign endangers ongoing missions. He expressed unease over the possibility of miscalculations or unprofessional conduct, emphasizing the unparalleled nature of this scenario, marked by a flagrant disregard for established protocols and deconfliction rules. The Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., has yet to comment on the matter.