The Russian military has twice flown near to Iceland so far this year, with four planes. Last year they approached Iceland once, with two planes. According to foreign ministry figures, Russian interest in flying provocatively close to Iceland has decreased in recent years.
The American government has aired the view to Icelandic authorities that due to the changing security environment there could be cause for increasing American military manpower in Iceland. No formal negotiations have yet taken place between the two countries.
RÚV reports that Bob Work, the US deputy defense secretary, has publicly said that Iceland is worried about the Russians and that their bombers are flying near to Icelandic airspace, leading the country to be interested in increased defense cooperation with the US.
Icelandic foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson has said, however, that the Americans have expressed an interest in increasing their involvement with NATO air defenses based at Keflavík, but that the interest is coming entirely from the American side.
Figures released to the media seem to show that Russian flights near Icelandic airspace have not increased, with Russian interest in the area seemingly less this year and last than the year before, and much reduced from 2007/8.
The number of Russian military flights near Iceland (none of which penetrated the country’s airspace), according to the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
2015 - 2 flights, 4 planes
2014 - 1 flight, 2 planes
2013 - 7 flights, 17 planes
2012 - 2 flights, 4 planes
2011 - 5 flights, 10 planes
2010 - 3 flights, 6 planes
2009 - 7 flights, 16 planes
2008 - 8 flights, 16 planes
2007 - 10 flights, 26 planes
2006 - 1 flight, 2 planes
Relations between the USA and Russia have been cold since the military campaign in eastern Ukraine. In June, US authorities announced that they intended to support armed forces in Europe due to the situation in Ukraine.