In what looks every bit like a dry run for taking an aggressive stance in the event of World War 3, Russia has reportedly fired off three ballistic missiles — two from submarines in the Pacific and one from land. On the other side of the world and less than a week earlier, two of its nuclear bombers were intercepted by fighter jets from no fewer than four NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries. Russia has been saying it really does not want World War 3, but if that is truly the case, it must be using the visible threat of force as a deterrent because the country’s weapons of war have been on full display as of late.
The Associated Press reported this week that Russia test fired three ballistic missiles, all capable of carrying a nuclear payload and all within a single day. Russia’s Defence Ministry announced that a Pacific Fleet nuclear submarine launched an intercontinental ballistic missile off the east coast of Russia in the Sea of Okhotsk. The launch took place at a military firing range Wednesday. Later in the day, a Northern Fleet nuclear submarine shot a missile in the opposite direction from the Barents Sea. A third ground-based Topol missile was launched from the Plesetsk facility in northeastern Russia at the Kamchatka range.
Less than a week prior to the missile testing, it was announced that two “Blackjack” nuclear bombers skirted the European coast, according to The Express, prompting the scrambling of fighter jets from four NATO countries to intercept the Russian bombers. The incident, which actually occurred on September 22, saw fighters launched to escort the Russian TU-60 warplanes from Norway, the U.K., France and Spain.
The two incidents, although time-wise present themselves as unconnected, are indicative of Russia’s growing aggressive, some would say provocative, stance with regard to the West (the United States and its NATO allies). And they have occurred during a period of increased tension between the United States and Russia with regard to the Syrian civil war.
Two days after the U.S. admitted to mistakenly attacking a target that ended up killing dozens of Syrian Army troops, the Russians bombed a relief convoy to Aleppo. The Russians, according to The Telegraph, claimed that the convoy was escorted by “terrorists.” That Friday, the Russians began bombing Aleppo, where a sizeable refugee population exists. The Syrian Army, which is backed by the Russian military, have long claimed Syrian rebels have been operating with impunity out of the Aleppo region. The civil war cease-fire negotiations, which were ongoing at the time, were impacted negatively during this tit-for-tat, with American diplomats admitting that they found out about the Aleppo operation just hours before it occurred on Thursday.
Those bombings, which were condemned by the United Nations, occurred a day after the Russian nuclear bombers were intercepted.
In the run-up to the ballistic missile tests, the Syrian civil war cease-fire talks completely fell apart, degenerating after the Aleppo bombings. The United States walked away from the negotiations on October 3, according to Reuters.
Also of major concern has been Russia’s reestablishing of Cold War-like programs. The intercept of the nuclear bombers occurred as Russia announced that it was creating a new division of nuclear bombers in its eastern and central districts that would fly along American airspace, a patrol pattern, reported the Inquisitr, that has not been flown since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. Back in August, Russia announced the establishment of an eastern facility that would house 50 nuclear weapons, according to The Daily Star. The base is located roughly 85 miles from the Alaskan coastline. It will be the first time since 1985 that Russia has had an operational base in its eastern territories along its Pacific coast.
So is Russia testing the West’s threshold for provocation? Or has Russia begun testing for NATO and American vulnerabilities, already intent on taking part in at least a limited nuclear exchange or some shortened version of World War 3? Perhaps more importantly, what could be gained by Russia by employing either tactic that would be worth the risk of possibly being utterly destroyed in a nuclear war?
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