Support our mission
 
Lt. Col. Matt “Nuttman” Chesnutt, the commander of the 22nd Fighter Squadron, pins an F-16 pin on Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, the deputy commander and chief of the Russian Air Force, after receiving a flight in an F-16D “Block 50” fighter aircraft Wednesday at Spangdahlem Air Base.
Lt. Col. Matt “Nuttman” Chesnutt, the commander of the 22nd Fighter Squadron, pins an F-16 pin on Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, the deputy commander and chief of the Russian Air Force, after receiving a flight in an F-16D “Block 50” fighter aircraft Wednesday at Spangdahlem Air Base. (Ben Bloker / S&S)
Lt. Col. Matt “Nuttman” Chesnutt, the commander of the 22nd Fighter Squadron, pins an F-16 pin on Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, the deputy commander and chief of the Russian Air Force, after receiving a flight in an F-16D “Block 50” fighter aircraft Wednesday at Spangdahlem Air Base.
Lt. Col. Matt “Nuttman” Chesnutt, the commander of the 22nd Fighter Squadron, pins an F-16 pin on Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, the deputy commander and chief of the Russian Air Force, after receiving a flight in an F-16D “Block 50” fighter aircraft Wednesday at Spangdahlem Air Base. (Ben Bloker / S&S)
Amn. Alexander Wieczorek, an assistant dedicated crew chief from the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, signals to Lt. Col. Douglas “Stoli” Nikolai, an F-16 pilot and director of operations from the 22nd Fighter Squadron, after returning from a local flight with Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin.
Amn. Alexander Wieczorek, an assistant dedicated crew chief from the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit, signals to Lt. Col. Douglas “Stoli” Nikolai, an F-16 pilot and director of operations from the 22nd Fighter Squadron, after returning from a local flight with Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Relations between Moscow and Washington have chilled over U.S. anti-missile shield plans, but air force leaders for both countries said Thursday that they are looking at a way they can work together.

Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, deputy commander in chief of the Russian Federation Air Force, led a delegation of Russian air force officials on a visit to U.S. military bases in Germany this week.

After flying in an American F-16 and touring various commands, Zelin said the two militaries hope to overcome differences embedded from the Cold War so that they can someday fight alongside each other.

“There are a lot of questions, a lot of issues that we could solve together,” Zelin said through an interpreter.

The visit comes on the heels of a diplomatic row between the two countries over U.S. plans to create a ballistic missile defense system in Central Europe. Although the White House says the shield is to protect against a possible attack from Iran, Russian leaders have spoken out against such plans.

Earlier this month, a top Russian general said their air force could easily take out any missile defense sites.

When asked about his thoughts on the system, Zelin said that was more of a “political question.”

“We’re military guys,” he said. “We solve those very specific tasks that are handed to us. We solve those issues that are pretty transparent to us that we understand quite well.”

Gen. Tom Hobbins, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, made a similar visit to Russia last August and flew in a Russian Su-27 and MiG-29 Fulcrum. He said there’s a possibility of the two air forces participating in a joint exercise.

“The fact is, they’ve had a great opportunity to share some ideas on this visit about where additional areas of cooperation might be,” Hobbins said.

Zelin said visiting each other’s bases is important to building friendships and fostering cooperation.

“There’s a great Russian saying that it’s better to see something once than hear about it a hundred times,” Zelin said.

Migrated

stars and stripes videos


around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up