As the United States and other NATO members hesitate in imposing No-Fly zone over Ukraine for fear of direct confrontation with Russia, here's a piece of history from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has the distinction of being the only air force that has engaged and shot down multiple Russian fighter pilots in combat since WWII. The most prominent among those shot down by PAF was Colonel Alexander Rutskoy who ejected over Pakistani soil and was captured by Pakistan. After his release, Rutskoy was decorated as a hero of the Soviet Union and went onto become vice president of Russia under Boris Yeltsin, before leading an attempted coup in 1993, according to The National Interest publication.
|Col Alexander Rutskoy of USSR Air Force Shot Down Over Pakistan
In 1986, the F-16s of the Pakistan Air Force's No. 9 Griffin and 14 Shaheen squadrons began flying combat air patrols along the Afghan border. That year. The Soviet and Afghan forces began a series of offensives targeting mujahideen bases in the Panjshir valley, supported with intensified bombardments of refugee camps. Here's an excerpt from The National Interest report on the subject:
"By 1987, Soviets records indicate that Pakistani fighters had begun roaming into Afghan airspace—particularly harassing efforts to provide aerial resupply to besieged garrisons like Khost, only ten miles across the border. On March 30, 1987 two F-16s intercepted an An-26 twin-turboprop cargo plane near Khost, each striking it with one Sidewinder from just under a mile away. The ponderous cargo plane crashed into the snowy mountains below, killing all 39 aboard. Over the course of the conflict, Pakistani F-16 pilots also claimed the destruction of several Mi-8 transports helicopter, another An-26 on a reconnaissance mission in 1989, and a maneuver kill versus an An-24 transport which was actually attempting to defect..........On November 3, 1988 the PAF would bag its final jet kill when Lt. Khalid Mahmood shot down a DRAAF Su-2M4K. Pakistan formally credits its F-16 pilots with 10 kills during the conflict, while Soviet records confirm the loss of three Su-22s, an Su-25 and An-26. Some sources claim the PAF shot down at least a dozen more aircraft during the Soviet war in Afghanistan which ostensibly were not formally credited because they involved violations of Afghan airspace".
Pakistan took enormous risks in the 1980s by supporting and providing sanctuaries to the Afghan Mujahideen insurgents who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Pakistan Air Force took on the Soviet Air Force and shot down several Russian fighter aircraft in dogfights. Pakistanis did this knowing that the US provided no security guarantees to Pakistan. Are Poland and Romania, both NATO members, willing to take such risks? Would the United States allow these NATO members to risk a broader war with Russia? Here's an excerpt from an article by Bruce Riedel, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project. It is titled "Could Ukraine Be Putin's Afghanistan?":
"Being the frontline state behind the mujahideen brought considerable risk and danger for Pakistan. The Russians supported Pakistani dissidents who organized terror attacks inside the country including hijacking Pakistani civilian aircraft and attempts to assassinate Zia (who died in a suspicious plane crash in 1988). Pakistani fighters engaged Soviet aircraft in dogfights. The Pakistani tribal border areas became dangerous and unruly. A Kalashnikov culture emerged that still haunts Pakistan today".