GOP lawmaker: Russian flight incursions 'ludicrous'

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said the recent near-collision of a Russian military spy plane and a Canada Air passenger jet was an attempted show of force by Moscow that could end up in another civilian airline crash.

"This is obviously the Russians' attempt to show power and show that they have the teeth of a bear, to try to bully their neighbors, and it's just — it's ludicrous," the Air Force pilot said Monday night on Fox's "On the Record."

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Russia is already responsible for downing one civilian airliner, Kinzinger said, over Ukraine in July, killing all 283 passengers on board and 15 crew members.

"The Russians can basically claim that the Ukrainians shot down the airliner out of Ukraine, but we know that they did it," he said.

The near-collision took place on Friday, after the Russian spy plane flew over Sweden and Germany with its transponder turned off, rendering it essentially invisible to civilian plane radars. Swedish Air Force scrambled jets to intercept and escort the "intruder," according to The Aviationist.

The incident was just the latest of a surge of unannounced Russian Air Force missions flying under the radar in the Baltics.

"They are going to go harass these airliners and, some day, there's going to be something that happens where maybe a Russian jet collides with an airliner again and they have to answer to that," Kinzinger said.

Kinzinger said the U.S. needed to respond with an increased NATO presence and flights along the Russian border.

"This is going to be important to do. I think when you see jets — Russian jets intercepting airliners, let's shadow with NATO jets, if we can do that," he said.

Kinzinger said the provocations were part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan to try to rebuild the pieces of the Soviet Union, but said the flights were only "bringing shame to the Russians."

"You're not showing us that you're tough. You're showing us that you're reckless, doing this with innocent airline passengers, and getting yourself in a position where you may collide. I'm a pilot. I know one mistake can lead to a collision. It's very dangerous and reckless, and not a good neighbor," he said.