In the latest series of saber rattling events between Putin’s Russia and the United States, four Russian bombers triggered American air defense systems on Monday when they came within 50 miles of the US Pacific coastline. The Inquisitr tells us that at 4:30 pm, four Russian Tu-95 Bear H nuclear capable strategic bombers supported by two IL-78 aerial refueling tankers approached the western Aleutian Islands. Two USAF F-22 fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Russian bombers, at which point, two of the bombers altered their course to head west (back towards Russia) and the other two bombers changed their course to head southeast.
The later pair of Russian bombers resurfaced again when, at 9:30 pm, they approached the US air defense zone 50 miles off the northern California coastline. Two USAF F-15 fighter jets intercepted the pair of bombers and caused them to head west, away from the mainland US coast.
Though US defense officials stated that the Russian bombers never entered US airspace and “acted professionally,” an article in the New York Daily News reminds us that this is the closest that Russian bombers have come to the US coastline since the Cold War. The Russian bombers are well equipped with electronic warfare and intelligence gathering sensors and according to US Navy Captain Jeff Davis, “we assess this was part of training. And they did not enter territorial airspace.”
Though Captain Davis and other US defense officials recognize the bombers made their incursions related to a seasonally scheduled training exercise, the situation isn’t being dismissed so easily by some on Capitol Hill.
House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Mike Conaway said that the two separate incidents of the Russian bombers appearing close to US airspace were “international provocations.” He went on to say that “Putin is doing this to taunt the US and exercise some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing nonsense. Truth is we would have squashed either one of those (bombers) like baby seals.”
Conaway’s statements are not unfounded, as earlier this year, the Daily Mail reminds us that a Russian fighter jet purposely flew within 100 feet of a US spy plane. A US official later described the incident as “straight out of a movie.”
Coming on the heels of icy relations between the US and Russia following Putin’s annexation of the Crimea region of the Ukraine amidst US protests against making such a move. Despite US officials’ eagerness to down play the recent Russian incursions as unintentional “slip-ups” during training, its rather obvious that the most recent incursion by Russian bombers and the previous “close call” involving the Russian fighter and US spy plane are intentional incidents both allowing Vladimir Putin to flex his muscle against declining US hegemony and to score points among the Russian people at home.