More Details on “Nyet Flag”

Russian news reports—and other news outlets that picked up the story last week—claiming that Russia would send fighters to an upcoming Red Flag exercise are “a complete fabrication,” said Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy. Russia was indeed supposed to send “working-level observers” to last month’s Red Flag-Alaska 12-2, but their participation was canceled “due to reciprocity issues,” she told the Daily Report on July 9 without elaboration. Observers at this “unit leadership” or “worker bee” level normally watch the exercise in order to prepare for possible full participation a year in advance, she explained. However, Red Flag participation by actual Russian air force fighters and strike aircraft “was never considered,” she said. And, “no further . . . observation/participation” by the Russian air force in Red Flag “is planned at this time,” she noted. Nevertheless, a Russian air force one-star general did watch the June exercise as part of an executive observer program. The Air Force could not immediately say whether this was the first time a Russian air force general observed a Red Flag at any level.