Russian incursions into NATO territory: defiance or distraction maneuvers?



Military analysis

Article by: Julius Kaizer, [email protected] 

November 10, 2014

Lately, Russian armed forces were involved in several incidents and violations of sovereign air spaces and territorial waters in Europe.

If the violation of neighboring countries air space can be attributed to some kind of error or miscommunication during routine exercises, the violation of Portuguese air space and territorial waters cannot be dismissed as such because of the sheer distance the Russian planes and ship had to travel to commit it.

These Russian indiscretions were seen by almost all military analysts as a test of NATO defense systems, with some claiming it to be a flat-out intimidatory maneuver, but few people saw it for what it really was – a distraction maneuver to cover the direct involvement of the Russian Army in East Ukraine.

A successful distraction maneuver, by the way, because everyone remembers the headlines from this early November. International press highlighted the Swedish Navy maneuvers, the NATO response to the flagrant air space violations in Eastern Europe and the height of these incidents with the Portuguese air space and national waters violation, but no one except for local news mentioned the escalation of Russian aggression in Ukrainian soil.


Russian Tupolev Tu-95 photographed in Portuguese Air Space

Just around October 29th when Portuguese Air Force F16 Fighters were escorting two Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers out of national air space, 4 500 km away in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the Russian army started reinforcing pro-Russian insurgent positions with Russian military personal, and in some cases replacing them entirely.


Russian Tu-95 Bomber escorted out of Portuguese Air Space by Portuguese F16 Fighter

By October 31, when for the second time Portuguese Air Force detected two more Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers in its air space, already in the Donbas region, in a matter of just two days, some 300 new Russian military vehicles took their positions inside Ukraine.

Corvet NRP Jacinto Candido escorting the Russian Navy ship out of Portuguese waters

Corvet NRP Jacinto Candido escorting the Russian Navy ship out of Portuguese waters

Finally, by November 5, while Portuguese Navy detected and escorted a Project 865 Russian Navy ship out of Portuguese territorial waters, the Russian Armed Forces started a push to set the frontline in East Ukraine a few kilometers further inside Ukraine.


InformNapalm map showing last Russian incursions in Ukrainian region of Donbas

Because of the unruly nature of the pro-Russian insurgents and the efficient response of Ukrainian armed forces and the countless volunteers that rushed to the front, the frontline was set and stable before the cease-fire and seemed that a counter-attack or even peace talks would terminate the advance of pro-Russians to the West. Only a direct involvement of the Russian Army would change this, so what better way to do this without starting a world war in this age of global communication and social media than a huge distraction maneuver.

And what better distraction maneuver could there be than sending two Cold War atomic bombers 4 500 km inside NATO territory?

Edited by: Alya Shandra
Source: Portuguese Air Force
Source: Portuguese Navy 
Source: InformNapalm

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  • Michel Cloarec

    Teasing ! and hope that someone will make a mistake, to get arguments for their cause. Typical sovjet syndrome !

  • Paul P. Valtos

    Well, Khrushschev pulled that same maneuver with the missiles in Cuba and I doubt that screwball Putin thinks that he can get away with an outright invasion of Ukraine. The fit will certainly hit the shan. It is unbelievable that the Russian people would allow this to go any further since their country is in jeopardy of being destabled. It will result in a similar situation like Berlin after WWI when it took wheelbarrows of marks to buy bread.

    • DejaVu

      Yes he can because the West is lead by weak and powerless politicians who would rather negotiate than lay down the line. Putin won’t stop in Ukraine either and I hope he teaches the West a lesson for their ignorance and indifferent attitude. Remember when the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939 and the West was ‘concerned’ but all they could do was talk. Same thing is happening here. Putin knows the West won’t do anything until their countries are invaded. The saying goes too little too late.

      • Oknemfrod

        There is a good deal of difference between 1939 and 2014. In 1939, the Soviets lost 323,000 men (to Finns’ 70,000), and it was possible to totally conceal it from the population. If anybody would even so much as squeak about it (including the relatives of the dead) Stalin knew how to gag them – and they knew it very well, too. Now casualties are impossible to conceal despite Putzer’s best efforts to follow Stalin’s MO and dispossess everyone going into the zone of their cell phones and such. So far, the losses of his cannon fodder are estimated on the order of under 10k, committees of soldiers’ mothers are already making a lot of noise, and Poo is not in the position to send them off to Gulag. An overt invasion would increase the figure tenfold in no time even without lethal assistance from the West and generally bring about an unrest in Russia much more dangerous to Poo and his coterie than Ukrainian bullets.

        • DejaVu

          Which is precisely why Putin is relying on Nationalism in order to distract and deviate from internal problems. Nationalism in the past has been shown to sustain military conflict and also war-weariness/fatigue. The problem is that it is usually short-term and the longer a conflict goes on the more war-weary a population is.

          • Oknemfrod


  • Mykola Banderachuk

    just goes to show the ruSSians are bullies picking on small countries-try and pick on the big ones and see what will happen – you ahole katsaps