August 18, 2007
Russia Resumes Patrols by Nuclear Bombers
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
MOSCOW, Saturday, Aug. 18 — President Vladimir V. Putin said Friday that the Russian Air Force would resume regular, long-range patrols by nuclear-capable bombers over the world’s oceans, renewing the practice after a 15-year hiatus in another sign of Russia’s growing assertiveness.
In the first flight, 14 bombers and six supporting airplanes took off at midnight on Friday, Mr. Putin said, in remarks carried on state television. Mr. Putin said such patrols would continue “from this day on.”
The sortie on Friday included Tu-160 and Tu-95 airplanes, known by their NATO appellations as Blackjacks and Bears, according to a statement posted on the Russian Defense Ministry Web site.
The Russian bombers were flying Friday over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the North Pole, and were being escorted by NATO fighter jets, the site said, recalling cold war-era standoffs.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia would periodically send its aging bomber fleet on missions, but only during major military training exercises; the country was too poor to fly the planes often.
That is no longer the case. Now the bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, will regularly fly missions far from Russian soil separately from scheduled training exercises. Mr. Putin suggested Friday that the decision was a response to military threats to Russia.
More fallout from a presidency mired in 20th century failed diplomacy. Still coasting on the mistaken claim that Reagan defeated communism, we're rattling swords again. It's not about Russian civil rights abuses--we care not what they do in that area, but care a whole lot about energy control and the Russian bear-hug on European natural gas.
445 more days of incompetence to endure. Oh, and what was it that actually brought down the Berlin Wall and sealed the fate of communism? Incompetence. They couldn't deliver goods and services.