Russia sparks Cold War scramble
Russian bombers have flown to the US island of Guam in the Pacific in a surprise manoeuvre reminiscent of the Cold War era. Two Tu-95 turboprops flew this week to Guam, home to a big US military base, Russian Maj Gen Pavel Androsov said. They "exchanged smiles" with US pilots who scrambled to track them, he added. The sorties, believed to be the first since the Cold War ended, come as Russia stresses a more assertive foreign policy, correspondents say. The flight is part of a pattern of more expansive Russian military operations in recent weeks, says BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.
Gen Androsov said the strategic bombers had flown 13 hours from their base in the Russian Far East during the exercise. "It has always been the tradition of our long-range aviation to fly far into the ocean, to meet [US] aircraft carriers and greet [US pilots] visually," he said at a news conference. "Yesterday [Wednesday] we revived this tradition, and two of our young crews paid a visit to the area of the base of Guam," he said. "I think the result was good. We met our colleagues - fighter jet pilots from [US] aircraft carriers. We exchanged smiles and returned home," he added. During the Cold War, Soviet bombers regularly flew long-haul missions to areas patrolled by Nato and the US. The bombers have the capability of launching a nuclear strike with the missiles they carry.
Russia Revives Cold War Style Surprise Visits To U.S. Air Space With Bomber Jets
Russia revived its Cold War practice of sending Russian bombers to pay a surprise visit near an American military base. On Wednesday, Russia flexed its military power muscle by sending two unannounced bomber jets to Guam, a U.S. Territory. U.S. fighter jets scrambled to meet the Tu-95 bombers on their unexpected military exercise in U.S. air space. Russian Maj. Gen. Pavel Androsov made light of the incident, saying that U.S. pilots had exchanged smiles with their Russian counterparts. "Whenever we saw U.S. planes during our flights over the ocean, we greeted them," Androsov said, according to Associated Press reports. "On Wednesday, we renewed the tradition when our young pilots flew by Guam in two planes. We exchanged smiles with our counterparts who flew up from a U.S. carrier and returned home." Russia sent its jets to Guam as part of three days of military exercises that coincided with a week of U.S. military exercises off Guam. But the U.S. isn't the only one Russia has paid a Cold War style visit to recently. It also sent its bomber jets to Britain and Norway last month. Both countries responded by scrambling jets to intercept Russia's bombers. Russia has said it is considering re-establishing a permanent presence in the Mediterranean, which it had abandoned when the Soviet Union dissolved.
Russian war games in the Arctic
In related news:
Canadian Premier Travels North to Counter Russia's Arctic Claim
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper set off to the country's north yesterday after Russia planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole as part of its effort to claim Arctic territory rich in natural resources. The north is a vast storehouse of energy and mineral riches,'' Harper said in a speech yesterday in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, according to a government transcript. He promised to ``take action to vigorously protect our Arctic sovereignty as international interest in the region increases.'' A Russian mini-submarine descended 4.26 kilometers (2.6 miles) to the Arctic Ocean floor beneath the polar cap on Aug. 2 to carry out scientific tests and plant a Russian flag. Russia contends the underwater Lomonosov Ridge links Siberia to the Arctic seabed, which may allow the country to extend its territory. The area of the Arctic shelf may hold 10 billion tons of oil equivalent, as well as gold, nickel and diamonds, according to the Russian government. Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said after the flag was planted that the Russians are fooling themselves if they believe they can simply lay claim to the Arctic. You can't go around the world these days, dropping a flag somewhere,'' he said. This isn't the 14th or 15th century.'' President Vladimir Putin congratulated the team of explorers and its leader, Artur Chilingarov, who is also a pro- Kremlin lawmaker, when they returned to Moscow on Aug. 7.
I am happy that we placed a Russian flag on the ocean floor, where no one has ever been before, and I couldn't care less what some foreigners say,'' Chilingarov said. Russia's territorial claim still needs to be accepted by international bodies, Putin said. Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the U.S. have territory within the Arctic Circle. Under the United Nations Law of the Sea convention they have rights to economic zones in the Arctic Ocean within 200 miles of their shores. Denmark's claim is based on its control of Greenland and the country has undertaken its own territorial surveys in the region. Russia says the Arctic's energy and mineral resources are becoming more accessible because of global warming. Russia, which ratified the Law of the Sea treaty in 1997, has until the end of this year to prove its claim. Canada has until 2013, Agence France-Presse reported. All Canadians need to recognize, there is a convergence of economic, environmental and strategic factors occurring here that will have critical impacts on the future of our country,'' Harper said, according to a transcript on his Web site.