Russia has revived Cold War-style tensions with the United States. It is expanding its military presence from Vietnam to Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. On Thursday, Washington asked Vietnam to bar Russia from refueling its military aircraft at the Cam Ranh Bay amid concerns that it could raise tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
Moscow steps up air patrols around Japan, South Korea
Cam Ranh Bay was a U.S. base during the Vietnam War. It later became a Soviet naval base until 2002. Meanwhile, the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Admiral William Gortney, said Thursday that Russia’s increased military activity could jeopardize the U.S. and Canadian military’s ability to defend North America.
Admiral Gortney said Russia continues to work to deploy long-range conventionally-armed cruise missiles in the Western Hemisphere. These missiles could be launched from submarines, aircraft and warships, report Terry Atlas and Anthony Capaccio of Bloomberg News. In recent months, U.S. officials have said that Moscow has significantly increased air patrols around South Korea and Japan.
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However, Russian Foreign Ministry said that the country’s military cooperation in Vietnam and other countries was not targeted at any third parties. Moscow said its Air Force’s activities in Vietnam and elsewhere were carried out “in strict compliance with international norms and bilateral agreements.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the U.S. of meddling in Russia’s backyard and fueling the Ukraine crisis.
Russia actively courting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua
Marine Corps General John Kelly, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, said Thursday that Russia has stepped up efforts to gain influence in the Americas. Over the last few years, it has increased the presence in Latin America through arms sales, propaganda, trade and counterdrug agreements. Kelly said the Kremlin has been courting Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua to gain access to ports and airbases for resupply of Russian bombers and naval assets.
Since last year, a Russian intelligence ship has docked many times in Havana, conducting operations along the East Coast of the U.S. and in the Gulf of Mexico. In Europe, Russian forces are engaged in “dangerous brinkmanship” with NATO forces.