Russia’s Bloody Nose and Ambiguity in Ukraine

Ukraine has managed to give “Russia a bloody nose” since Russian forces invaded Crimea earlier this year, but it also has “lost almost an entire squadron of airplanes flying sorties in their own airspace,” said US Air Forces in Europe- Air Forces Africa Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc. Speaking at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Monday, Gorenc said the crisis in Ukraine “offers us a very valuable opportunity to look at a problem we’re going to have to deal with,” specifically “ambiguity.” He noted that US and NATO forces could not confirm the identity of the “little green men” operating inside of Ukraine at the beginning of the crisis. There also was “ambiguity” around who possessed and was firing advanced surface-to-air missiles. “We have an airliner that was shot down,” said Gorenc, referring to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed in July killing all 298 people on board. “We still don’t really attribute who did that and why” he said. Gorenc also noted that one-third of Poland’s airspace falls inside the range of Russia’s integrated air defenses. “That’s an interesting concept, particularly considering one airliner already was shot down in Ukraine,” said Gorenc. He added, “We’ll have to account for this contested airspace to make sure we have air supremacy and air dominance” in the future.