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Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, tension with the West has been high, affecting eastern Ukraine, Syria and hot spots across the former Soviet sphere. Less overtly, Moscow has been working to protect areas vital to Russian interests by raising the stakes of U.S. operations there. This has manifested in numerous aggressive interceptions of U.S. military aircraft in flight, especially over the Black and Baltic seas. The interceptions, which are reportedly occurring more frequently, aim to dissuade Washington from operating in that airspace.