Report: Russia breaks military deal with U.S. in Syria

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Russian planes have carried out “simulated attacks” on U.S. jets over Syria in what is seen as a breach of last year’s military agreement between Moscow and Washington, a report said.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2015 stating that all Russian and American jets in Syria would stay a safe distance away from one another and communicate in English via recognized radio channels.

A Russian Su-24 attack aircraft sweeps low over the USS Donald Cook. /Reuters
A Russian Su-24 attack aircraft sweeps low over the USS Donald Cook. /Reuters

A recent report by Chatham House contends that Russia has routinely broken the agreement.

Russia appears to have been spooked after the U.S. Air Force in November deployed 12 F-15 jets to Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, the report said. Half of those were F-15C Eagles, designed for air-to-air combat.

While over Syria, the F-15s became a particular target for Russian pilots who “took the opportunity to practice aggressive maneuvering against U.S. aircraft, including positioning for simulated attacks,” the report said.

Last week, the U.S. accused Russia of “aggressive” and “unsafe” maneuvers after two Su-24 jets flew within 30 feet of an American destroyer in the Baltic Sea. Across Europe, Russian fighters and bombers have been intercepted while probing the air defenses of NATO countries.

About 20 of the Kremlin’s fighter jets are still based in the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent announcement of Moscow’s withdrawal from Syria.

At its peak deployment, Russia had about 40 fighters and bombers in Syria. In addition, Russia recently sent up to 20 helicopters to the country, most of which are still there.