OPINION

April 4, 1959

COLD WAR: London, 1 – There is a very real risk of air battles between Russia and the West in air corridors after statements by US military authorities in Europe that they would not bow to Moscow’s demands that Allied aircraft conduct flights below 3,000 meters. Russia has issued a statement that there will be «complications.» This unexpected intransigence on the part of Russia is attributed to the Kremlin’s desire, in view of a foreign ministers’ summit on May 11, to have another weapon in negotiations on the fate of Berlin. On the other hand, the USA seems determined to insist on reserving its right to approach Berlin at the maximum altitude, for, if the foreign ministers’ talks fail and the Communists embark on a new blockade of Berlin, then the Allies will want to reserve the right to send in air transport at any altitude. The first incident occurred on Friday, involving a US Hercules C-130 aircraft approaching Berlin at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Russian fighter aircraft flew dangerously close to it, forcing the pilot to change course. The USA immediately lodged a complaint and the State Department said its aircraft would fly to Berlin at the maximum altitude. The US Air Force in Europe announced today that if there was any need the C-130 would be used to transport supplies or army personnel to or from Berlin.