Speed Reads

Putin' on a show

Russian fighter planes are running amok over Western Europe

Russian military aircraft reportedly tangoed with fighter jets of at least two European countries this week.

The British Royal Air Force scrambled jets today after Russian "Bear" bombers were spotted getting too close to British airspace. The U.K.'s Sky News reports the RAF sent up two fighters to identify and deter the planes, which never actually entered British airspace.

Sweden had a similar run-in with Russian military planes on Wednesday. In this case, two Russian "Su-24 attack planes" actually entered Swedish airspace over the island of Öland, Sweden's English-language news site The Local reports. Sweden then scrambled its own fighter jets to intercept the intruders, who peeled off. Reports The Local:

Expressen's source however said the Armed Forces believed Russia had sent the fighter jets to test how ready Sweden was to respond.

Estonia's president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, noted that the violation occurred while Sweden's outgoing foreign minister, Carl Bildt, was discussing regional security with the country's military. [The Local]

As Kyle Mizokami reported earlier this week, such provocations have become a defining feature of Russian diplomacy under President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this month, Russian "Bears" buzzed U.S. airspace, apparently to remind NATO of its nuclear capabilities as the group sat down in Wales to discuss Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Russia played similar games with Finland and Canada, too.