NORAD command says that it detected the Russian planes ‘entering and operating within’ the zone off the Alaska coast
In a statement, NORAD confirmed that the Russian aircraft confined themselves to the zone in question and “did not enter American or Canadian sovereign airspace”.
Nevertheless, Russia’s apparent decision to fly aircraft into the Defense Identification Zone may be worth noting.
This marks the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and a heightening of tensions with the US that a Russian aircraft has breached the identification zone. NORAD also reported that five Russian aircraft flew into the zone in October of last year.
Because the defense identification zone is not considered sovereign US territory, the Russian aircraft that reportedly entered the zone are not in violation of international law. But entering a self-defined defense identification zone is considered a provacative act — one that China, for instance, used for months the buildup to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Much of Russia’s attention is still concentrated on Ukraine, where the invasion launched in February is in its sixth month. Russian forces last month seized control of Luhansk and has in recent days intensified its attacks on the major city of Donetsk, where Ukranian civilians and others have been urged to evacuate.
Russia and the US are also at odds over the future of US basketball star Brittney Griner, who has been sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony for carrying cannabis oil in her luggage at an airport outside Moscow in February.
The US has reportedly offered to exchange convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Ms Griner and former US security consultant Paul Whelan, who is also incarcerated in Russia. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US put a “substantial proposal on the table” several weeks ago to try to secure their release.