Russia is sending bombers close to the airspace of the United States to assert its global military power, according to political observers.
During the fourth of July, the United States fighter jets intercepted Russian bombers off the coast of California. The Russian pilots raised a metaphorical finger and expressed their greetings.
American fighter jets also intercepted two other Russian Tu-95 bombers were also spotted off the southern coast of Alaska during the same day.
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According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Russian pilots said, “Good morning American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day.”
President Vladimir Putin also expressed his best wishes to President Barack Obama during that day.
Russia wants to get the respect it deserves
Nick de Larrinaga, Europe Editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, commented that such activities are part of Putin’s efforts to re-assert Russia’s position on the international stage.
According to de Larrinaga, Putin has a perception that the respect accorded to Russia, and its political standing declined since the end of the Cold War. Putin wants to make sure that his country gets the respect it deserves.
Putin also wants to show that Russia is “still a global military power and a force to be reckoned with,” said de Larrinaga.
Russian bombers’ visit should be seen as “act of aggression”
United States Representative Adam Kinzinger considered Russia’s action of sending Tu-95 bombers as an “act of aggression.” Kinzinger is an Air Force veteran.
In an interview with CNN, Kinzinger said, “If you ever have any doubt whether the Cold War is back on, I mean these are the kind of maneuvers that show that it is. I think there has been a re-establishment, probably not to the intensity it was in the ’80s, but a re-establishment of, in essence, kind of Cold War principles, where, you know, at that time, it was all a show of force from both sides.”
Kinzinger also described Putin as a school bully. He said, “Sometimes a small kid in class is the biggest bully. And that’s who he is.”
According to Kinzinger, Putin is testing the West using such maneuvers to figure out how far he can go to provoke a response. He said it is important for the United States to “stand up now and make it very clear that we are not going to be bullied.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing that “Russia presents that greatest threat” to the national security of the United States.
“If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia.And if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming,” said Gen. Dunford.
Russia is flying in international space that involves risks
Russia is flying in international airspace where it is allowed to do so, but some of its maneuvers involve certain risks, according to de Larrinaga. He noted some complaints that the transponders of Russian aircrafts were turned off particularly in Europe where airspace is congested. De Larrinaga said Russia is raising the possibility of a collision with civilian air traffic and military aircraft that would intercept its fighter jets.
“Anytime you have military aircraft of two different nations coming into proximity to each other when they are not communicating, it does raise the prospects of accidents happening,” said de Larrinaga.
He noted that Russia and other countries sending intercepting aircraft previously complained against each as they came dangerously close. A collision could happen even if the pilots are highly skilled.
During an interception over the Hainan Island in the South China Sea in 2001, a Chinse fighter het collided with the U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft. The Chinese pilot was killed while the damaged U.S. plane managed to make an emergency landing. China blamed the United States for that incident.
Russia military power is still behind the West
According to de Larrinaga, Russia is still behind the West when it comes to military equipment and capability. He noted that many of the Russian aircraft were aging. A Tu-95 recently crashed in Russia. The Russian government is pushing hard to modernize its Air Force.
Putin recently emphasized that one of the top priorities of Russia is the development and modernization of its military. Russia recently announced its plan to build hundreds of drones by 2025 and to add 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles. There were reports that Putin is using secret funds in building the country’s military.