WASHINGTON — Russian warplanes were detected flying near the U.S. coast for four straight days this week in what one American defense official called a “strategic messaging.”
Three of the incidents off Alaska’s coast involved TU-95s, which are strategic bombers and missile platforms capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
“This kind of cat-and-mouse stuff has been going on for a while now,” former State Department official Howard Stoffer told CNN.
Stoffer said he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin “is trying to put the U.S. on notice that the Russians are everywhere and are back to expanding the limits of expanding their military power.”
On April 17, U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted two TU-95s 100 miles from Kodiak Island.
On April 18, a U.S. E-3 surveillance plane was scrambled because of another sighting of TU-95s 41 miles off the Alaskan coast.
On April 19, two IL-38 maritime patrol planes were seen.
On April 20, another flight by two TU-95s was reported. It was escorted by U.S. F-22s and Canadian CF-18s
The Russian planes never entered U.S. airspace, but the situation is dangerous because of the possibility of shots or missiles being accidentally fired.
“No one wants to go to war with the Russians, but let me double down on another concept: The Russians really don’t want to go to war with us,” retired Air Force General and former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden told CNN. “They are by far the weaker power.”
The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement saying that “all such missions are carried out in strict compliance with international regulations and with respect to national borders.”
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