Russia’s expansions on global military activity worrisome

Special to the Star

Tensions between the United States and Russia have been increasingly hostile since Russia’s takeover of Crimea.

Now Russia seems to be flexing its military muscles towards the west by sending bomber planes to the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and the California coast.

Russia has routinely sent bomber planes to these areas before, so it is not new, but patrols have increased with more close interactions. According to a June 13 CNN article, two Russian long-range bombers were intercepted by U.S. fighter jets when they came within 50 miles of the California coast. The U.S. has not intercepted Russian bomber planes in two years.

Technically, Russia did not break international law since the law states bombers can fly on international airspace as long as they do not come within 13.8 miles of the U.S. coast. Still, Russian bombers were only 36 miles away from possibly starting conflict. It just seems like they are testing U.S. waters, literally and figuratively.

This also makes defense officials a little uneasy about why Russia feels the need to patrol so frequently and closely. According to a Nov. 13 CNN article, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We don't think there is a current situation in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific or the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico that warrants additional flights in out-of-area territory.”

Many defense officials think the increase in Russian bomber plane patrols has to do with U.N. allegations that Russia is still overtaking and fighting in Crimea. Russia has continuously denied its presence in Crimea since the ceasefire, but U.N. officials say otherwise.

This is driving Russia to showcase its military presence in the world. Other incidents of Russian military aggression have been reported across the globe. Netherland fighter jets had to intercept Russian bomber planes in April. Sweden also began a hunt for a detected Russian submarine in its waters, but it was never recovered.

Many have argued this is just Russia showing how many military bells and whistles it has, but it is very possible that these encounters are subtle threats. U.S. defense systems are doing a good job of keeping tabs on Russian military threats, but the Kremlin seems like it is getting too comfortable for diplomatic standards.  

However Russia chooses to implicate its military practices is completely its own decision. But Russia should be wary of how these encounters seem to the world. Understandably, these procedures are necessary for precautionary measures, but increasing patrols and sending them closer to other countries’ coastlines is extremely unnecessary.

The indifference Russia has shown to the U.N. and the West does not help the cause. There is no direct threat to be worried about here, but subtlety can go as far as waging war. Russia must understand these military actions are not going unnoticed. The last thing the world wants or needs is another heated Cold War.