It wasn’t too long ago that we reported on suspicious Russian military flights around the United Kingdom. Since then, these unusual sorties have grown in size. Sergey Shoigu, Russias’s defense minister, says that the country will expand their flight plans near U.S. shores. On Wednesday, Reuters quoted Shoigu:
In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,
Shoigu also said that Russia’s fleet of long-range aircraft will be receiving repairs and upgrades. The BBC notes that in the past year, the minister has also authorized the construction of military bases in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The bases will be receiving upgrades, too.
These new flights come amidst tensions in Ukraine. NATO forces have been conducting flights and military drills of their own near Russian borders. Reuters reports that NATO has recently asked the US for additional troops in Eastern Europe. As a response to this, the BBC suggests that,
Russia in turn has decided to pursue a more active, many might say a more aggressive, military policy of its own, returning to the sorts of flights and activities from the Cold War years that were used to regularly test out Nato defences.
In September, a ceasefire was instated in Ukraine. But the U.S. has criticized Russia for undermining the peace process. According to an article in Time, NATO commanders have confirmed an influx of Russian troops and military hardware into the region. The article also quotes Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations., who said on Wednesday that,
Russia has negotiated a peace plan, and then systematically undermined it at every step.
The Russians have responded to NATO military exercises in countries like Estonia. They say that military activities along its border are seen as a security threat, according to Reuters.