American Resistance To Empire

Peshawar’s Pistol-Packin’ “School Marms”

A schoolteacher from Frontier College cocks a handgun during the training session, in which teachers were taught how to use guns, take cover and return fire

Women trained to use Kalashnikovs and handguns… to defend their CLASSROOMS:

The female teachers taught to kill in the aftermath of Pakistani Taliban massacre

daily mail

  • Teachers in Peshawar are being taught to use assault rifles and handguns
  • They learn the basics of how to take cover and return fire at terrorists
  • The government-led initiative is a response to last month’s deadly attack
  • On December 16 terrorists stormed Public Army School, killing 145 people

Armed to the teeth with handguns and assault rifles, these are the Pakistani teachers trained to kill in defence of their classrooms.

Following a government announcement that teachers in Peshawar, Pakistan, will be armed and receive combat training to ‘engage’ terrorists, this is the first group pictured to undergo their instruction.

The initiative is a response to the December 16 tragedy in which a group of terrorists stormed the city’s Public Army School, massacring 145 people, including 132 schoolchildren.

Two teachers practice aiming an assault rifle as they receive their weapons training

The women, in Peshawar, Pakistan, practice releasing the magazines and reloading the guns

The announcement that teachers and school staff members would receive arms training in the region was a response to last month’s deadly terrorist attack, in which 132 schoolchildren were killed. Pictured are two teachers learning how to use a handgun and an assault rifle

Officials in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakthunkhwa province, said the move would allow teachers to fight off terrorists ‘for [an] initial five to 10 minutes’ before back-up arrives.

The group of eight teachers were trained by an instructor in how to use various handguns and Kalashnikovs, as well as the principles of taking cover before returning fire.

Pictures show the group, from Frontier College, assembling, loading and looking down the sights of the guns at the behest of a weapons instructor.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa information minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani has said the training would allow school staff members to ‘engage’ attackers for five to ten minutes before law enforcement personnel could respond.

He told reporters on January 13: ‘The provincial cabinet has decided to allow teachers and other staff members to keep their licensed weapons with them so that in case of any eventuality they could engage attackers for initial five to 10 minutes before personnel of law-enforcement agencies will show up to respond to the attack.’

The 35,000 educational institutions – including schools, colleges and universities – across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been ordered to beef up security following the brutal attack on the Army Public School.

Mr Ghani also announced earlier this month that authorities would build walls at least 8ft high around government-run education institutions, and would also introduce community policing systems whereby civilians with experience operating weapons would be trained and paid to guard educational facilities.

Private sector schools, colleges and universities have meanwhile been issued with strict guidelines with requirements including having guards, Mr Ghani said, adding that schools’ licenses could be revoked if they did not follow the rules.

In response to the Taliban attack, Pakistan’s parliament last week passed a constitutional amendment approving the establishment of military courts to hear terrorism-related cases.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also lifted the country’s six-year-old moratorium on the use of the death penalty, reinstating it for terror cases in the wake of the slaughter at the school.

However, critics have warned the move to arm teachers could put children at even greater risk, as well as affect teachers’ performance at work.

Two teachers watch on as they are taught how to operate a handgun, training which will allow them to ‘engage’ terrorists should their school come under attack

As the group of eight teachers listens intently, a weapons instructor demonstrates how to fire a Kalashnikov

This group were the first set of teachers to undergo the training as part of a new government initiative

Funeral prayers in Pakistan as PM vows to continue war on terror

Taliban Capture Mind-Washed Guantanamo (Former) Taliban, Recruiting For “Islamic State”

Taliban capture IS leader Mullah Rauf, 45 supporters


LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The Taliban on Wednesday captured Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, an Islamic State (IS) ally, along with 45 supporters in the Kajaki district of southern Helmand province, a reliable source confided to Pajhwok Afghan News.

However, security officials expressed unawareness about the detention of Rauf, who became a recruiter for the IS group in Afghanistan after falling out with the Taliban. Rauf, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, was a military commander in Herat and Kabul during Taliban’s regime.

He recently joined the IS, a jihadi group which controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, and has been leading hundreds of masked gunmen in northern districts of Helmand.

A Taliban commander in Helmand, wishing anonymity, told Pajhwok Afghan News they disarmed Rauf and his 45 gunmen and detained them on Wednesday in compliance with directives from the Taliban’s governor for Helmand, Mullah Abdul Rahim Akhund.

He said the men were in their custody and their fate would be decided by Taliban religious leaders and judges.

The Taliban commander said they had been directed to arrest Mullah Rauf because he was against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban’s official name. He said Mullah Rauf was involved in anti-Islamic activities.

A tribal elder in Kajaki, Abdul Ahad Masoomi, also a member of the provincial reform committee, told Pajhwok Afghan News that harsh differences had recently surfaced between local militants and Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim group.

“Mullah Khadim, who claims allegiance to Daesh (Arabic acronym for IS) forcibly assembled local residents on Thursday last in the Kakaji’s Azan area and told the people that Mullah Omar no longer exists and they should now support him.”

Masoomi said Mullah Rauf and his masked gunmen arrived in the area in dozens of vehicles. A day after (on Friday) they left, Taliban insurgents arrived in the area and told residents that Rauf was an infidel and no one should support him, according to the elder.

Masoomi said he had no knowledge of Rauf’s arrest, but confirmed he had serious differences with his former colleagues.

Kajaki police chief Faizullah Akhund said differences among Taliban and masked gunmen had recently deepened, but they had no information about Rauf’s detention.

He said Taliban’s governor Mullah Akhund on Wednesday visited Olang area and held a meeting with local Taliban leaders, but no details of the meeting were available.

Pajhwok tried to seek comment from Taliban’s overall spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, but did not succeed.

But this scribe was able to find a message Ahmadi had sent to local Taliban. In the message, Ahmadi confirmed Mullah Rauf had been arrested.

Pajhwok received the message from local Taliban sources. “Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim has been detained along with 45 associates and their fate will be decided later,” the message says.

An official at the provincial National Directorate of Security (NDS) also confirmed harsh differences between the two groups, but had no information about Mullah Rauf’s detention.

A senior official in Helmand said Mullah Rauf had been one of Mullah Omar’s close aides. He was detained during Taliban’s last year in power in northern Afghanistan and was handed over to the US.

He was held for seven years in Guantanamo Bay detention centre and was released in 2007 and flown back to Kabul where he remained under Afghan government’s observation. But Rauf fled to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, and was appointed as a member of Taliban’s Quetta Council and head of the military council.

However, he developed differences with the Taliban and was expelled from the movement before joining the IS.

There Can Be Only One “Islamic State,” According To Mullah Omar

[SEE: Taliban capture IS leader Mullah Rauf, 45 supporters ]

Ex-Gitmo detainee leads contingent of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan

Long war journal


A former Guantanamo detainee, Mullah Raouf Khadim, is reportedly leading a contingent of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand. Khadim’s role was first reported by The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press (AP).

Raouf had served as a top Taliban military leader until he and his allies lost an internal power struggle, paving the way for him to switch allegiances.

“A number of tribal leaders, jihadi commanders and some ulema [religious leaders] and other people have contacted me to tell me that Mullah Raouf had contacted them and invited them to join him,” the AP quoted Gen. Mahmood Khan, an Afghan military official, as saying.

Raouf’s fighters have reportedly engaged in skirmishes with their Taliban counterparts.

The Taliban is trying to thwart Raouf’s recruiting efforts on behalf of the Islamic State. It is not clear if Raouf has developed operational ties to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization, or if his allegiance is more aspirational. The Islamic State has been attempting to cut into the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s dominant share of the jihadist market in the region since last year, when al Qaeda officially disowned the Islamic State.

The revelation of Raouf’s role came just days before the top US military commander in Afghanistan warned of the Islamic State’s recruiting efforts.

“We are seeing reports of some recruiting” on behalf of the Islamic State, General John Campbell told the Army Times. “There have been some night letter drops, there have been reports of people trying to recruit both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, quite frankly.”

General Campbell stated that the Islamic State has a “hard message to sell” in Afghanistan. “The Taliban have their allegiance to Mullah Omar and a different philosophy and ideology than [the Islamic State], but, potentially, there are people who are disgruntled with the Taliban, they haven’t seen [Taliban commander] Mullah Omar in years, or they want to go a different way,” said Campbell.

Separately, Ariana TV in Kabul quoted Campbell as saying that “young Taliban” members may be wooed into the Islamic State’s ranks.

Raouf concealed his Taliban role while detained at Guantanamo

Raouf spent several years at Guantanamo, but was transferred to Afghanistan in 2007.

The AP cites an Afghan official as noting that Raouf “was a corps commander during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule” of Afghanistan. During hearings at Guantanamo, however, Raouf hid his Taliban role. [See LWJ report, Former Gitmo detainee turned Taliban leader threatens Afghan elders.]

“I am not a member of the Taliban,” Raouf said during his combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) at Guantanamo. During his administrative review board (ARB) hearing, Raouf also denied receiving any weapons training or fighting for the Taliban. He said that he had merely served food from a nearby bakery to the Taliban’s soldiers.

“I wish there was a way I could prove to you that I will not be a danger anymore,” Raouf told military officials. He said he wanted to work with the Karzai government, which was then in power. “If they do not mind, I’d love to go there and help them out with the new government and work for them.”

According to a leaked Oct. 26, 2004 threat assessment authored by Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), Raouf was able to accurately identify several high-level Taliban leaders and “admitted involvement in the production and sales of opium, as well as association with criminal elements within the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.”

Raouf was “generally cooperative” during interrogations or debriefings, but he was “uncooperative in terms of discussing his complete involvement with the Taliban and the opium trade.” He remained “vague and inconsistent when questioned on high-level Taliban leadership or topics of a sensitive nature.” Raouf also “evaded answering questions regarding his role and leadership within the Taliban.”

The JTF-GTMO team suspected, however, that there was more to Raouf’s story. He was deemed a “medium” threat (as opposed to high or low) to the US, its interests and allies. And JTF-GTMO recommended that he be transferred to the control of another country for continued detention.

Ties to the so-called “Taliban Five”

JTF-GTMO’s threat assessment connects Raouf to at least two members of the so-called “Taliban Five,” a group of senior Taliban officials who were exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. [See LWJ report, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl exchanged for top 5 Taliban commanders at Gitmo.]

The leaked file notes that Raouf was “associated” with Mohammad Fazl, who served as the Taliban’s chief of staff and commanded a few thousand fighters.

Other senior Taliban commanders identified Raouf during their time in custody at Guantanamo. Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa is one of them. Khairkhwa identified Raouf as “a possible military leader, military commander, or possibly even as mayor of Khost,” Afghanistan but apparently never explained Raouf’s true role.

Both Fazl and Khairkwa are members of the “Taliban Five” and were transferred to Qatar last year.

Raouf has worked closely with another senior Taliban leader known as Mullah Abdul Qayoum Zakir. Like Raouf, Zakir was once held at Guantanamo and attempted to hide the true extent of his role within the Taliban while in custody. [See LWJ report, The Gitmo Files: 2 of Afghanistan’s most wanted hid leadership roles while in US custody.]

After being transferred to Afghanistan, both Raouf and Zakir quickly emerged as top Taliban commanders once again. At one point, Zakir led the Taliban’s efforts to counter the coalition’s surge of forces in southern Afghanistan.

However, both Raouf and Zakir were removed from the senior leadership positions they held within the Taliban after leaving Guantanamo. In April 2014, the Taliban announced that Zakir had resigned from his position as the head of the Taliban’s military commission due to “ill health.” It has been reported that in reality Zakir was forced out. [See LWJ report, Head of Taliban’s military commission resigns due to ‘ill health’.]

Today, Raouf claims he is loyal to the Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State. And he is not the only ex-Guantanamo detainee who is attempting to expand the Islamic State’s influence into Afghanistan and Pakistan. Muslim Dost, who was also once held in Cuba, has been helping Baghdadi’s organization by recruiting and spreading its propaganda throughout the region.

The Perversely Bestial, Inhuman Nature of CIA Guantanamo Torturers


Gitmo inmate: My treatment shames American flag


Samir Naji is a Yemeni accused of serving in Osama bin Laden’s security detail and has been imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay. He was cleared for release in 2009, but remains in detention. The following first-person testimony, recorded during his most recent meeting with lawyers from the international human rights organization Reprieve, has just been released by prison censors. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely his.

Also see
: Closing Guantanamo: Who’s left and what’s in the way

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (CNN)I’ve heard that the Senate report on CIA torture is 6,000 pages long. My story, though, takes place elsewhere: in Guantanamo, away from the CIA program that the report covers. The 6,000 pages of the Senate report are just the start of what Americans have to accept happened in their name.

It starts and ends in the silence of a tiny, freezing cold cell, alone. That’s when you hold yourself in a ball, and fight to ignore the confusion of what has just happened to you, and the fear of what might be coming next. Or the fear that comes when you realize that no one is coming to help; that the life, family and friends you knew are all far, far away.

The cell door opens. The next session, seemingly the 100th in a row. I think my first period of interrogation lasted three full months. Two teams of interrogators running shifts, day and night.

Each session begins with shouting, to wake me up. Then they hit me on the face and the back. I am so desperate for sleep, my head is swimming. There are photographs of faces stuck all around the walls of this room. They demand that I identify the individuals, but I can barely focus to see if I might know them. The shouting and the insults get louder, and then they nod to a man in the corner. He injects me twice in the arm with some unknown substance. It’s the last thing I know.

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. This time the guards enter, making awful honking noises, like wild animals.

I tried to refuse to eat the little food they bring me, in protest at all this. The interrogator laughs at me, but then turns angry; he swears loudly, and pours an army meal pack over my head. They tell the man in the corner to start feeding me intravenously. He inserts the tube in two different places on my arm and makes it bleed.

Closing Guantanamo: Who’s left and what’s in the way

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. This time the guards push me on the floor and take turns trampling over my back.

I tell the interrogators that I can’t face not eating any more. They throw food on the floor of the room and tell me to eat like a pig. They won’t let me go to the restroom. They watch as it gets more painful, and laugh as they get the translator to describe how they will rape me if I pee in my pants.

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. They make me stand and salute the American flag.

I’m in a sort of cinema room, where I have to watch videos of other prisoners being abused. Then they tell me that I have to dance for them, and run in circles whilst they pull on my chains. Every time I try and refuse, they touch me in my most private areas.

The freezing cold cell. The cell door opens. It has rained, and there are muddy puddles everywhere. I’m shackled, so I can’t really walk; they deliberately drag me through the muddy puddles.

Now it’s the pornography room. Awful pictures everywhere. There is one with a man and a donkey. I’m stripped naked and have my beard shaved, in a gratuitous insult to my religion. I’m shown pornographic pictures of women. I’m told to make the noises of different animals, and when I refuse, they just hit me. It ends with them pouring cold water all over me.

Hours later in my cell, I am discovered, nearly frozen. The doctor tells them to bring me urgently to the clinic, where I am given a blanket and treatment. Over the next hours, they observe me as I warm up. They are just waiting for the moment that they can sign off on my return to interrogation.

Four years ago, six U.S. government security agencies sat together and reviewed my case. Their conclusion? That I was innocent of any crime and should be released. The dirty and sadistic methods I endured — which were then taken directly to Abu Ghraib — achieved nothing, except to shame that American flag hanging in the prison corridor, which I was made to salute.

One hundred and thirty-six prisoners are still being held at Guantanamo, whilst the politicians squabble over how to black out the Senate report. America cannot keep hiding from its past, and its present, like this. Our stories, and our continued detention, cannot be made to disappear.

READ: CIA misled public on torture, Senate report says

Tsipras says Barbaros must leave for talks to resume

Tsipras says Barbaros must leave for talks to resume (Update)

Cyprus mail

Tsipras says Barbaros must leave for talks to resume  (Update)Alexis Tsipras

By Jean Christou

Greek Prime Minister Alexia Tsipras was quoted on Friday as saying it was important that the Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros leave the sea area around Cyprus so that talks could resume.

Tsipras who is due in Cyprus on Monday on his first official visit abroad since being elected on an anti-bailout platform last Sunday, gave an interview to Turkish newspaper Sabah.

The Barbaros has been anchored off Famagusta port in the north since December 30 but earlier this week Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami said it might resume explorations soon given the continued deadlock in the Cyprus talks.

In his interview with Sabah, Tsipras was quoted as saying that Greece supported negotiations facilitated by the UN and on the basis of UN Resolutions for a “bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single administration, single citizenship and a single international identity”.

“We must actively support an increase of mutual confidence on the island,” he said. “The materialisation of this, however, is becoming much more difficult with activities such as the violation of the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone… by the Barbaros vessel which belongs to Turkey. The ship’s abandoning of the area and the leaving open of all diplomatic channels for the resumption of the negotiations is of significant importance,” Tsipras added.

As regards Greece’s relations with Turkey and whether he planned to continue détente with Athens, Tsipras said Athens had repeatedly underlined the necessity of an active and multidimensional Greek foreign policy which supported peace and stability in the region.
He said Syriza’s manifesto explicitly says that it actively supported the peaceful resolution of disputes with neighbouring countries within the framework of international law.

The Greek government would attach great importance to the development of cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the fields of economy, culture, tourism, education, migration, transportation, energy and environment, he said.

However he made it clear that the only way to take another step forward in creating confidence was respecting each other’s sovereign rights and the principle of good neighbourliness. He also made reference to the fact that in 2014, Turkish violations of Greek air space had tripled compared to 2013.
When he visits Cyprus next week, Tsipras visit would reaffirm close cooperation between Nicosia and Athens, government spokesman spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Friday.

During his visit, Tsipras, will have a private meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades followed by a meeting between the delegations of the two countries, the spokesman said.

The Greek side will also meet the political parties.
“We look forward to the visit of the new Greek Prime Minister and we are certain that through the discussion that will take place the close cooperation that exists between the two countries over the years will be demonstrated,” the spokesman said.

He said the Cyprus problem, Turkey ‘s violation of the island’s exclusive economic zone, as well as the economy would be discussed during the talks.
On Russia, he said the “overwhelming majority of the EU member states, even the large states, had the same position as Greece and Cyprus related to the approach for the solution of the problem that exists in the region.” He was referring to Greece and Cyprus’ opposition to further sanctions on Russia.

Georgia is on the verge of a government crisis

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Georgia is on the verge of a government crisis


Giorgi Kalatozishvili, Tbilisi. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza

The 29-year-old Interior Minister of Georgia, Alexander Chikaidze, has resigned, confirming his inability to investigate two awful murders which are separated by 10 years. He was thought to be the youngest, but the most powerful minister in the government of the 33-year-old premier Irakli Garibashvili. The murders are the shooting of 22-year-old Zurab Vazagashvili during a special operation near the Tbilisi tennis courts on May 2nd 2006, and the murder of his father Yuri Vazagashvili, who was blown up on his son’s grave several days ago in their family village of Karafila.

According to the military expert Irakli Aladashvili, the murderers fixed a fragmentation hand grenade without a safety-pin ring under the grave-stone. They knew well that Yuri Vazagashvili visited his son’s grave almost every day; and he would have noted that the gravestone had been shifted and would have tried to put it back. That’s when the grenade exploded. The murder caused a sharp reaction in the country. The Interior Minister declared that he couldn’t stay on in his position, as employees of his ministry couldn’t find the murderers without delay. However, Chikaidze named other reasons for his resignation – accusations of lobbying interests and concealing top officials of the Interior Ministry who participated in the “liquidation” of 2006, when Zurab Vazagashvili was killed. Yuri Vazagashvili himself blamed the Ministry for this ahead of the terrorist attack in the Karafila cemetery.

The resignation of the Interior Minister was inevitable, but undesirable for Premier Garibashvili in the situation, considering the heavy reaction of the Georgian press, which doubted the efficiency of the government.

Alexander Chikaidze is the fourth minister to withdraw from the Cabinet. Before him, the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, and the state minister for European integration resigned or were dismissed. According to the Georgian constitution, in case of the resignation of six ministers, the parliament should hold a vote of confidence in the government. And today it is difficult to predict the result of any possible vote. Moreover, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is thought to be the real head of the government and the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, is concerned about the ability of key ministers to solve ths problems which face the country.

And the problems are growing, including the devaluation of the lari and the fact that Georgia doesn’t have the opportunity to export wine to the Russian market at the old ruble prices anymore. However, considering the political tradition of the last 25 years, the cases of the murders of father and son Vazagashvili could be a trigger for blowing up a whole complex of accumulated problems. Georgians are difficult to get out onto the streets because of 20% devaluation or inflation, but they are easily stirred up by arguments: “Georgia is on the edge of a government crisis, while the authorities cannot do anything!”

The young premier and his team found themselves in a difficult situation. It is not easy to punish officials of the Interior Ministry and officers of the special forces who participated in the operation of 2006. Today they take the top positions in power structures and they have their own view on the incident: “Zurab Vazagashvili was armed, opened fire on policemen, and they had to respond.” The father of the shot young man didn’t agree with this view. For many years he has been fighting for truth. He became one of the opposition leaders, and contributed a lot to the victory of Georgian Dream in the parliamentary elections in October 2012. It is impossible to ignore his demands, but the arrest and sentencing of the participants of the special operation could lead to indignation on the part of the police as a united consolidated corporation or sabotage by the police, i.e. a worsening of the criminal situation in the country.

However, the choice has to be made. The murder of Yuri Vazagashvili is not being investigated, and the circumstance is stirring up social dissatisfaction. They say that people whom he had been criticizing for years blew him up.

The new Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri (the former head of personal security of Ivanishvili) ordered the dismissal of a few top officials of the ministry, who were involved in the bloody operation near the courts. The same decision was made concerning the prosecutors who investigated the case 9 years ago and found that the police acted legally and reasonably. The near future will tell whether these measures will be sufficient to calm down society.

Two Russian “Bear” Bombers Buzz the English Channel

UK summons Russia after two bombers fly over English Channel and ‘disrupt civil aircrafts’

the independent

Government source said incident was viewed as “a significant escalation”


Heather Saul

The UK summoned the Russian ambassador to the Foreign Office after two Russian bombers flew over the English Channel, “causing disruption to civil aviation”.

A British government source claimed the incident was being considered “a significant escalation” and marked a change in strategy since Russian aircraft usually confine themselves to flying close to Scotland.

RAF Typhoons were scrambled to escort the two Russian Tu-95 bombers “throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest”, a spokeswoman said.

“It was very dangerous. Civil aircraft flying to the UK had to be rerouted. The Russians were flying with their transponders turned off so could only be seen on military radar. They haven’t flown this far south before,” the source was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The TU-95 bombers are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. An FCO spokesperson said the bombers manoeuvres are part of an “increasing pattern of out of area operations by Russian aircraft”.

It said Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko was called to account for the incident.

A statement read: “While the Russian planes did not enter sovereign UK airspace and were escorted by RAF Typhoons throughout the time they were in the UK area of interest, the Russian planes caused disruption to civil aviation. That is why we summoned the Russian Ambassador today to account for the incident.”

Mr Yakovenko insisted that the patrols were routine and “stressed that the concerns of the British side are not understandable given that two Russian military aircraft were on a routine air patrol duty over the high seas of the Atlantic Ocean”.

He argued it “cannot be regarded as threatening, destabilising or disruptive.”

Last year, Nato conducted more than 100 interceptions of Russian aircraft, about three times as many as in 2013, amid increased tensions between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in December he was concerned by “the extremely aggressive” probing of Britain’s airspace by Russian military aircraft after a spate of interceptions off the Scottish coast.

Hammond, a former defence minister, had previously said the sharp increase in such activity in recent years was because of a Kremlin military overhaul that had been overlooked by many.

In December, Swedish authorities said a Russian military jet nearly collided with a commercial passenger airplane in international airspace near southern Sweden. Russia insisted its jet had kept at a safe distance.

Additional reporting by Reuters