At a July 29 press conference, President Barack Obama assured reporters that the new conflict between the U.S. and Russia, one characterized by economic and military proxy conflict on a variety of fronts, is “not a new Cold War.” He’s right; at no point during the Cold War would the Soviets have felt comfortable engaging in the systematic testing of American defense parameters with nuclear bombers. The current leadership in the Kremlin, however, has no such qualms about employing that kind of instigation.
According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz, U.S. defense officials are warning that Russian strategic nuclear bombers have conducted no less than 16 incursions into American airspace in just a 10-day period. Gertz characterizes this uptick in the number of times American airspace has been penetrated by Russian air assets as an “unusually sharp increase.”
“The numerous flight encounters by Tu-95 Russian Bear H bombers prompted the scrambling of U.S. jet fighters on several occasions, and come amid heightened U.S.-Russia tensions over Ukraine,” the report read.
The bomber flights took place mainly along the Alaskan air defense identification zone that covers the Aleutian Islands and the continental part of the state, and one incursion involved entry into Canada’s air defense zone, Smith said.
The Russian strategic aircraft included a mix of Tu-95 Bear H heavy bombers and Tu-142 Bear F maritime reconnaissance aircraft, she said, adding that one IL-20 intelligence collection aircraft was detected during the flight incursions over the past week to 10 days.
This is only the latest escalation in tensions between Russia and the United States. In July, America accused Russia of violating the 1987 nuclear test ban treaty with a test of a ground-launched cruise missile.
“The U.S. said Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev,” the Voice of America reported. “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was designed to eliminate ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometers.”
These aggressive moves by Russia come amid an effort on the part of Moscow to destabilize Ukraine following the invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. This week, NATO and some of its member states have warned that the increasing number of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, and some Russian officials expressing their support for a “humanitarian mission” to eastern Ukraine, suggest that an invasion of that former Soviet Republic could be imminent.
Russia recently imposed strict restrictions on the imports of a variety of foods from nations participating in sectoral sanctions aimed at punishing the Russian Federation for their actions inside Ukraine. Russia is currently conducting large-scale military exercises along the Ukrainian border, raising concerns in Western capitals as past military exercises have been used by Russia as cover for military action against neighboring states.