British imperialism in the Independent

It’s all they’ve got poor souls, and they aren’t going to let it go.

This is an account in the Independent about a routine interception by the RAF of a routine flight near British airspace by Russian military planes. These are some excerpts with comments in italics:

“They [the Russian planes] were tracked by NATO as they transited within the military alliance’s northern air policing area”.

This “policing area” has no relevance in international law and indeed looks like some kind of a land (air)-grab.

A statement from the RAF is copied: “We worked closely with units from around the Royal Air Force to deliver another successful intercept, maintaining the integrity of UK and Nato airspace throughout”

But of course the “integrity of UK airspace” was never and at no point challenged.

In a statement on the incident, the RAF said that Russian military aircraft entering the UK Flight Information Region, the UK’s controlled zone of international airspace, could pose a hazard to other air users.

This “Flight Information Region” is an area (the UK in fact has 3) which is a way that civil aviation authorities divide up airspace for the convenience of air traffic control. Russian planes are allowed to enter this area – of course. Russia has FIR’s which it is responsible for, around Kamchatka for example. I doubt that Nato aircraft studiously avoid flying in these zones.

It added that such planes often do not talk to air traffic control or “squawk” – broadcasting a code ensuring they are visible to other air users and air traffic controllers on the ground.

This is perfectly legal under international Civil Aviation rules.

On Thursday, RAF Typhoons based in Romania also responded to a Nato quick reaction alert over Russian aircraft flying into Nato airspace over the Black Sea, according to the air force.

I wonder what exactly “NATO airspace over the Black Sea” means? We are told that Russian jets “flew into it”. If they had indeed flown into the airspace of a Nato member country we would certainly have heard of it. This probably in fact refers again to some kind of self-appointed “policing area” with no relevance in international law.

For the people who claim to uphold the “international rules-based order” it is striking how many of these rules seem to be of their own making.

Another characteristic feature of this article is that there is no distinction between the imperialistic pretentions of the RAF press releases (“policing area”, “NATO airspace”, extra-judicial demands made on Russia) and the reporting by the Independent journalist. He simply verbatim reproduces the propaganda. And calls this journalism. It is weird.

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer