This is an “RAF saves Britain from Russian bear” type story which is all too familiar from the tabloids. Slightly weird to see it in what purports to be a credible newspaper.
The piece is credited to someone called Lin Jenkins. Judging by the list of articles credited to her on the Guardian website she is a general purpose journalist writing on many topics (e.g. sex education) and is not specifically a political or defence correspondent. Even so it is surprising that her grasp of politics and international affairs is quite so grounded in phantasy.
The story concerns a routine incident. One (or more) prop-driven Russian bombers (not in fact jets as Ms Jenkins calls them) approached UK airspace. The RAF scrambled fighter aircraft to go and have a look. Completely routine.
The whole tone of the article implies that the Russian bomber(s) were actually trying to penetrate UK airspace and would have done so had they not been “forced to change course” by the RAF fighter jets. This is abject nonsense. Russia is 100% unlikely to enter into British airspace (other than as the result of a navigational error). This practice – of flying quite close to UK airspace is about testing their capacities, training for war – and no doubt about testing UK response times (and where planes are scrambled from). The RAF does exactly the same thing on Russian borders.
The headline: “Russian jets intercepted heading to UK airspace”.
“Russian aircraft were spotted heading towards British airspace”
“The Ministry of Defence said that two pairs approached the aircraft before withdrawing, while the third pair finished the job of forcing them to change course.”
It looks like the gung-ho and absurd language is Ms Jenkin’s contribution. The RAF issued a more normal statement:
At no point did these aircraft enter UK sovereign airspace. The Russian aircraft were shadowed by our Typhoons, along with aircraft from our Nato partners in Norway and France.
I can’t see the original MOD statement – but I doubt it said “finished the job”.
Ironically Ms Jenkins ends her piece by referencing the UK’s participation in “policing” the airspace in the Baltics. This operation is analogous to what happened above – and here NATO planes are regularly intercepted and shadowed by Russian craft.
It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise (presumably) intelligent people can quite so readily become jingoistic nutcases beating the drums of war. Our planes good, your planes bad. We are policemen; you are aggressors. We good, you bad. The world is a little more complex, of course.