US Ambassador visits Crete air-force base as Turkish F-16 fighter jets enter Greek airspace

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US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis joined Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Deputy Defense Minister Nikos Hardalias on a visit to the  115 Combat Wing of the Hellenic Air Force at Souda air base in Crete on Tuesday to mark the conclusion of the bilateral Greek-US joint training exercise Poseidon’s Rage 22.

Meanwhile, provocatively on the same day, a pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets flew over the islet of Zourafa, also known as Ladoxera, east of the northern Aegean island of Samothraki on Tuesday at 10.31 a.m., the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) said in a statement.


The Turkish aircraft, which entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting a flight plan, flew at an altitude of 25,000 feet, GEETHA said.

The planes were identified and intercepted in line with international rules of engagement, it said.

During the Souda Bay visit, the Greek foreign minister said that Greek and American pilots trained together over the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean in a broad spectrum of scenarios and missions “with just one goal: to preserve peace, stability and democracy.”

The US and Greece, both sent humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine and both imposed heavy sanctions on Russia as did all of our allies. Well, to be honest with you, almost all with one exception,” Dendias said, in a thinly-disguised reference to Turkey.

“Our historically turbulent region cannot afford any more provocative, aggressive and revisionist actions and behaviours. We need to work together to preserve peace, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond,” he said.

According to a tweet by the Foreign Ministry, the officials visited an exhibition of US F-35 fighter jets, while during a tour at the premises of the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center at Souda Bay, they were briefed on NMIOTC’s mission, role and activities.

"Wonderful to visit Souda Bay with HAFGS Chief Bourolias for #PoseidonsRage22, highlighting the strength of the US and Greece defence relationship and interoperability of our forces. Together we make NATO and the region stronger and more secure." tweeted the US Ambassador.