National Affairs: Ploy in the Sky

Visible only by its landing lights in New Jersey's night sky, the aircraft whined in a circle above vast McGuire Air Force Base, then touched down and taxied up to a pack of reporters and cameramen on hand to meet the first Russia-to-U.S. civilian flight in 20 years.* There was an intense, high-pitched roar from the twin jets as the sweptwing, silver-and-blue plane rolled to a stop.

As 30-odd junior members of Russia's U.N. delegation debarked and an official of Aeroflot, Russia's civil airline, made a pitch for regular flights between the two countries,...

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