Subtlety was never Vladimir Putin’s strong suit, and today is obviously no exception. Just as the Russian leader was preparing to sit down for today’s summit with President Joe Biden, Russia announced that it had launched one of the largest naval military exercises seen since the end of the cold war. And they’re doing it off of the coast of Hawaii. Our Air Force had to scramble some stealth fighters and deploy other naval vessels in response. The Russian military released a video of the exercises to the international media, clearly wanting a split-screen on everyone’s television screens showing Russia’s naval and airpower capabilities right while Putin and Biden were smiling for the cameras and shaking hands. The firepower on display was, I must admit, impressive, and it was backed up by Russia’s largest long-range bombers. Getting the timing of this confluence of military hardware down precisely would have required launching the bombers hours earlier, so this was clearly planned in advance and designed to send a message. (NY Post)
Russian ships are conducting the largest military exercises since the Cold War off the coast of Hawaii, sending the US Air Force scrambling hours before President Biden meets Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The exercises, conducted by the Russian navy in the Pacific Ocean 300 to 500 miles west of Hawaii, include long-range bombers, surface ships and anti-submarine aircraft.
The US Air Force scrambled F-22 stealth fighters from Hawaii in response to the exercises.
Here’s the short video that the Russian military released. It’s clearly a carefully staged presentation that could have come out of a Hollywood studio.
The Russian bombers didn’t cross over into Hawaii’s Air Defense Identification Zone so they didn’t need to be intercepted. But they came close. Very close. The operations are taking place between 300 and 500 miles from the Hawaiian Islands.
The American media has been playing up this summit for weeks, talking about how Joe Biden was preparing to “get tough” on Vladimir Putin and read off a list of demands. I asked earlier this week what we should expect Putin to do with a list of demands coming from Uncle Joe. I think we have our answer.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that both sides planned to “project strength” during the summit. Joe Biden was expected to do this by listing actions taken by Russia that are “not in accordance with international norms.” What you’re seeing play out in the Pacific right now is clearly Vladimir Putin’s idea of projecting strength.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t much that Biden or anyone in our military can say in response. We conduct naval exercises all the time, frequently right on the edge of China and North Korea’s territorial waters. The Russians haven’t crossed into our restricted seas and are operating in international waters. Other than keeping an eye on them, there isn’t much of a justifiable response that we can offer. But if anyone thought that Joe Biden was going to walk into that summit and steamroll Vladimir Putin, it seems pretty obvious at this stage that Putin is having none of it.