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Tipsheet

Russian Pilots Tried to 'Dogfight' U.S. Jets Over Syria In An Attempt to 'Provoke' the U.S. Into War

Russians are baiting U.S. jets after they attempted to “dogfight” in Syria, according to the three-star general in charge of U.S. air operations in the Middle East.

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Tensions were high over the weekend as the latest maneuver of Russian troops grew confrontational toward America and its allies as they crossed paths over war zones in shared airspace. 

Col. Joe Buccino told CNN that Russian pilots were not trying to shoot down U.S. jets but rather attempting to “draw us into an international incident” or “provoke” the U.S. into war.

In military aviation, dogfighting engages in aerial combat, often at a close range. 

This is an ongoing issue with Russian pilots, who have been aggravating U.S. pilots in mid-air on more than one occasion. For example, on April 2, a Russian SU-35 fighter jet was captured on video conducting an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of a U.S. F-16 fighter jet.

Another video from April 18 caught a second Russian fighter jet violating coalition airspace, coming within 2,000 feet of a U.S. aircraft, a distance a fighter jet can cover in seconds.

Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich said the U.S. has been trying to de-escalate tensions between the two countries and act professionally. 

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The Russians are “maneuvering aggressively against us when our protocols would say we’re supposed to stay several miles apart and monitor each other,” Grynkewich told Defense One. “They’re aggressively maneuvering, almost like they’re trying to dogfight if you will.”

Grynkewich has warned of hostile actions by Russian forces in Syria for months. The Pentagon has also continued to launch airstrikes and raids into the region to contain the Islamic State group inside Syria.

Earlier this week, Russia warned President Joe Biden that the possibility of nuclear war is “steadily increasing” after reports indicated the U.S. would cease exchanging certain information about its nuclear forces with Russia. 

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