In what will certainly fuel the fears of those anticipating World War 3, Russia Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced via the ministry’s website that Russia would soon begin sending long-range bombers as far afield as the eastern Pacific Ocean and the U. S. Gulf of Mexico. Bloomberg reported Nov. 12 that, according to the defense minister, Russian long-range bombers, in addition to the patrols along the eastern Pacific and over the Gulf of Mexico, will also start regularly patrolling along Russia’s borders and over the Arctic Ocean.
“In this situation,” Shoigu asserted via the Russian Defense Ministry website, “we have to maintain a military presence in the western part of the Atlantic and the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean, in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico.”
“This situation” is the heightened tensions that have crept into the relationship between Russia and the United States (and the European Union slash NATO) since the trans-continental nation annexed Crimea and began encroaching militarily along the Ukraine border and intimating that it might invade the former Soviet republic. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been none to subtle about threatening not only Ukraine but other eastern European nations that once existed under the Soviet Union umbrella as members of the Warsaw Pact, all of which dissolved with the break-up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in the early 1990s. Although all the saber-rattling (including statements made by Western leaders concerning Russia and its possible intentions towards countries that fall under both the European Union and NATO mantles) might simply amount to little more than aggressive rhetoric or pure posturing, it has made for growing fears of a possible Russia-Ukraine war, not to mention hostilities in other areas of the world that might escalate into World War 3.
The move by the Russian Defense Ministry comes on the heels of several comments made by President Putin that place the blame for the escalation of tensions on the West. Putin cites the increased economic sanctions on Russia since the Crimean annexation as tantamount to acts of war. And former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, in a speech at the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, blamed much of the “new Cold War” on the United States’ and Western expansion toward Russia via the enlargement of NATO, something he said the Western powers had promised not to do.
Shoigu’s directive comes also following accusations from NATO that Russia has been sending more troops into Ukraine. However, Russia has taken the official position that it is not militarily involved in the Ukraine situation.
“We have seen columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air-defense systems and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine,” U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top military commander, told reporters in Bulgaria Wednesday. As for Breedlove’s statements, Shoigu dismissively wrote that Russia has stopped listening to him.
As tensions mount between many of the the world’s major powers, many of the leaders of those nations, including Russia and the U. S., are planning to meet in Australia for the G20 conference. Whether or not there will be progress on that front could be related to the tensions along the Ukraine border and rumblings of further economic sanctions against Russia if their military presence there is maintained or strengthens in the coming weeks.
If a London think tank’s warning that the increased military encounters between forces from Russia and the Western powers could very well lead to a situation that could further lead to major hostilities (even World War 3) wasn’t enough for people to worry over, news that increased Russian bomber patrols will only heighten those fears. The number of encounters was up considerably from 2013. With more patrols and with a number of them close to the borders of the United States, the chances of mistakes, accidents, and dangerous confrontations only increase as well. The warnings could very well become reality in a global atmosphere being described as the most tense since the fall of the Berlin Wall and moving quickly toward what looks like will end in a stand-off reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis.