They already have empty, yet revived and mainted air force bases within South America, Nicaragua in particular, that are ready to occupied. America doesn’t seem to understand they’re playing for keeps.
MOSCOW (AP) — In a show of military muscle amid tensions with the West, Russia will send long-range strategic bombers on regular patrol missions across the globe, from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, a top official said Wednesday.
The announcement by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu came as NATO’s chief accused Russia of sending fresh troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine.
“Over the last few days, we have seen multiple reports of large convoys moving into Eastern Ukraine,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “We assess that this significant military buildup includes Russian artillery, tanks, air defense systems and troops. His statement called the situation a “severe threat to the cease-fire.”
Shoigu said Russian long-range bombers will conduct flights along Russian borders and over the Arctic Ocean. He said, “In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Shoigu would not say how frequent the patrol missions would be or offer any other specifics, but he noted that the increasing pace and duration of flights would require stronger maintenance efforts and that relevant directives have been issued to industries.
He said the Russian air force’s long-range planes also will conduct “reconnaissance missions to monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications.”
A senior U.S. military official said Russia has not previously flown actual bomber patrols over the Gulf of Mexico, including during the Cold War.
Long-range bombers have been in the area before, but only to participate in various visits to the region when the aircraft stopped over night at locations in South or Central America. During the Cold War, other types of Russian aircraft flew patrols there, including surveillance flights and anti-submarine aircraft.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the flights publicly, also said that the pace of Russian flights around North America, including the Arctic, have largely remained steady, with about five incidents per year.
Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to call this a Russian provocation. He said the Russians have a right, like any other nation, to operate in international airspace and in international waters. The important thing, Warren said, is for such exercises to be carried out safely and in accordance with international standards.
Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers were making regular patrols across the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans during Cold War times, reaching areas from which nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be launched at the United States. But that stopped in the post-Soviet economic meltdown.
Earlier this year, Shoigu said that Russia plans to expand its worldwide military presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere for replenishing supplies and doing maintenance. He said the military was conducting talks with Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.
Shoigu said Russia also is talking to some of those countries about allowing long-range bombers to use their air bases for refueling.
Full article: Russian bomber patrols to reach Gulf of Mexico (Associated Press)