Friday, August 17, 2007

Russia Restarts Cold War Bomber Patrols

By Cernig

It looks like the recent visit to Guam by two Russian strategic bombers wasn't a one-off event.
Russia is resuming a Soviet-era practice of sending its bomber aircraft on long-range flights, President Vladimir Putin has said.
Mr Putin said the move to resume the flights permanently after a 15-year suspension was in response to security threats posed by other military powers.

He said 14 bombers had taken off from Russian airfields early on Friday.

..."We have decided to restore flights by Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis," Mr Putin told reporters at joint military exercises with China and four Central Asian states in Russia's Ural mountains.

"In 1992, Russia unilaterally ended flights by its strategic aircraft to distant military patrol areas. Unfortunately, our example was not followed by everyone," Mr Putin said, in an apparent reference to the US.

..."Flights by other countries' strategic aircraft continue and this creates certain problems for ensuring the security of the Russian Federation," he said.

In Washington, state department spokesman Sean McCormack played down the significance of Russia's move, saying: "We certainly are not in the kind of posture we were with what used to be the Soviet Union."

"If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision," he told reporters.

One of the reasons Russia halted its flights 15 years ago was that it could no longer afford the fuel.

Today Moscow's coffers are stuffed full of oil money, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow, and the Kremlin is determined to show it is still a military power to reckon with.
Combine military adventures in nations a lot closer to Russia's borders than America's with plans for a "layered" (read: space-based) missile defense system and the incredibly belligerent and hegemonic rhetoric coming from the current crop of Republican presidential candidates and it isn't difficult to understand why Russia might be genuinely worried. Of course, a resurgent military plays well to the nationalist audience at home too - but that audience would be just as happy if the Russians had found some other flag-waving way to spend those oil-rubles.

Just another way the Republican party has made you safer - NOT!

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