Russia orders long-range bomber patrols
Aug. 17 2007, Associated Press
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the military to resume regular long-range flights of strategic bombers, a show of Russia's resurgent military power which comes amid a chill in relations with the United States. Speaking Friday after Russian and Chinese forces completed major war games exercises for the first time on Russian turf, Putin said a halt in long-range bomber flights after the Soviet collapse had affected Russia's security because other countries had continued such missions. That was seen as an oblique reference to the United States.The co-operation between Russia and China completing war games exercises adds cause for concern. China, already facing shortages and severe environmental problems is striving for rapid development which will increase their need for resources in a world where we are finally beginning to understand that resources are limited, going fast, and coveted by all countries. Backed by Russia, they will not be content to stall their growth if they have an opportunity to expand beyond their present borders.
"We certainly are not in the kind of posture we were with what used to be the Soviet Union,'' said the spokesman, Sean McCormack. "It's a different era. 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.'' The Russian-Chinese war games, which took place near the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, coincided with Russian air force manoeuvres involving strategic bombers which ranged far over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. Soviet bombers routinely flew such missions to areas from which nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be launched at the United States, but stopped in the post-Soviet economic meltdown.Trivializing the actions of the Russians by mocking the state of their military is foolish. Clearly, they are serious about increasing military presence in specific areas of the world, as their renewed training indicates. If, as Putin states, this is at least partially in reaction to US missile defence plans, then this may indicate a fight for territory and resources. Neither the US nor Russia would easily give up resources in light of global resources concerns. No country invests that much time and money for show, nor do they run training flights to such specific, distant targets. These are planned training missions that appear to be directed by scenarios with specific goals in mind. Again, the Arctic, subject to much interest lately by several countries eager to claim sovereignty, is mentioned in the context of the Russian training missions.
The announcement comes amid a growing chill in the U.S.-Russian relations, strained over Washington's criticism of Russia's democracy record, Moscow's strong criticism of U.S. missile defence plans and differences over global crises.This is how cold wars begin, both sides wanting an advantage, neither side willing to be the first to back down. What is even more frightening is that this time, the stakes are much higher as the needs of countries are greater in a world with less to give.
"This is a significant change of posture of Russian strategic forces,'' Alexander Pikayev, a senior military analyst with the Moscow-based Institute for World Economy and International Relations, told The Associated Press. "It's a response to the relocation of NATO forces closer to Russia's western border.''