Three Russian aircraft approached the Polish air defense zone on Monday and were intercepted by F-35s of the Dutch air force on a NATO mission in Poland, the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced. The F-35 fighters intercepted a Russian Il-20M reconnaissance aircraft and two escorting Su-27 fighter aircraft.
Eight F-35 fighters are operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force and are stationed at the 22nd Air Base near Malbork in northern Poland as part of NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing mission.
“There might have been a break, when we forgot about Russian provocations, directed not only at Poland,” former GROM special forces unit commander General Roman Polko commented on the incident during an interview for Polish Radio 3.
He added that despite the conflict in Ukraine, “Poland remains a target that is being tested by Russia.”
Gen. Polko pointed out that the incident took place one day prior to the meeting of countries supporting Ukraine militarily.
“This is not a coincidence, that we see Kremlin’s emotional reactions following the decision to donate Leopards to Ukraine, among others,” said the general.
Gen. Polko added that Russia previously was true to the principle that actions speak louder than words and did not make empty threats while pursuing its imperial policy. Now, “because it does not have that kind of power anymore to execute those actions, Russia can only organize such provocations.”
Gen. Polko said he hopes that the West already made the decision to provide fighter planes to Ukraine.
“Ukraine will never be secure without the ability to conduct operations in its airspace. That is why it will have to make a transition to NATO aircraft,” pointed out Polko.
According to Polko, Ukraine needs to receive all equipment types delivered methodically, not on a random basis.
“Tanks, artillery and aircraft are needed,” said Polko.
He assessed that war could end by the end of this year, under the condition that “the West stops discussing and ‘Scholzing’ and starts acting.”