U.S. ambassador aware of need for improved air security

  • 2005-10-02
VILNIUS - U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull said that NATO was considering way to improve airspace security after the recent incursion of a Russian fighter jet into Lithuanian territory. .

"On all of our minds the past two weeks in the aftermath of the incursion of the Russian fighter jet's incursion and crash in Lithuania, is the question of NATO's more immediate security guarantees," he told students at Siauliai University on Friday.

"Some suggest the incident shows that NATO's security guarantee is hollow. But anyone who would believe that is badly mistaken. No air policing arrangement can prevent such incursions into NATO air space; just as it was impossible to prevent the crash of a Soviet fighter jet in Norway at the height of the cold war in 1978," Mull said.

He stressed that the alliance took the incident "very seriously" and is looking into ways to improve the air policing system.

A U.S. Air Force contingent took over the rotating air policing duty from the Germans this week. The three-month mission will have handled by some 100 service troops, which is nearly twice as many as any of the allied contingents that have served in the mission so far, the Baltic News Service reported.