(NationalSentinel) Defense: If there ever was “collusion” between the campaign of President Donald J. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, that bargain has long been broken.
Moscow is continuing to pressure the United States and its Western allies virtually everywhere on the planet: Along the Alaskan coast; in the Pacific; in the Middle East; in the Mediterranean.
US defense officials are calling recent sightings of Russian bombers off the Alaskan coast “nothing out of the ordinary” — itself an indication that both nations are toeing the line between routine military posturing and escalating provocation.
On Monday, US F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace 100 miles from Kodiak Island, Alaska. A US military official called the interaction “safe and professional.”
Less than 24 hours later, a US surveillance aircraft responded to two Russian bombers that were spotted in the same area, this time flying 41 miles off Alaska.
For its part, Russia says the flights and encounters are no big deal and are occurring in international waters. But understand that these incidents also send messages to the United States and her allies: Russia remains a force to be reckoned with.
The encounters play into a larger effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin “to prove Russia is back in the game,” according to Howard Stoffer, a former State Department staffer, in an interview with CNN.
“This kind of cat-and-mouse stuff has been going on for a while now,” Stoffer said, adding that Putin “is trying to put the US on notice that the Russians are everywhere and are back to expanding the limits of expanding their military power.”
“It is one thing when you fly to be noticed,” he said. “When the Russians buzz US ships, that is an unprofessional action because upsets the operation and is dangerous for all parties involved … that is where the line that is drawn.”
US officials have echoed Stoffer’s stance as recently as February, after the USS Porter had three encounters with Russian aircraft while sailing in the Black Sea.
Russia is also beefing up its forces in its own territory near the border with North Korea, as is China, indicating that both nations believe military action against Pyongyang’s nuclear, chemical and conventional weapons infrastructure by the U.S. is a distinct possibility. They know any such attack would lead to a deluge of refugees out of North Korea and into their respective countries.
But their show of force along the border is also a signal to the Trump administration: Don’t go any further what is absolutely necessary to accomplish your mission, and stay away from our borders.