There is talk of a new “Top Gun” movie in the works and the FX show, “The Amerikans” continues to garner viewers and praise. If that wasn’t enough to help us reminisce about the Cold War, we now have Russia to thank.
The recent “fly by” of Russian fighter jets over the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea is another example of the continued trend of Russian military posturing. Russia continues to believe that NATO and specifically, the United States, is encroaching in its area of influence in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. However, the relative brashness of the most recent encounter is particularly concerning. Close calls like this can lead to a miscalculation or an accident with wider consequences. Our hats are off to the commander of the USS Cook and the crew for understanding the strategic situation and showing restraint.
We continue to see Russia provocation and it appears that Putin and the senior leadership is more and more paranoid that something much larger is going on in regards to NATO and US policy. The condemnation of the Panama Papers as western propaganda adds to a growing list that Putin is using to convince the Russian people that they are under some type of exigent threat. What is not clear is how much of this is being done to distract the Russian people from the disastrous economic situation that Russia continues to face. With oil prices hovering around all time lows, the Russian economy will continue to suffer and I suspect Putin understands that well. He needs a good ole adversary to keep the attention elsewhere.
Should we be concerned? Yes, because we have not heard much from any of the presidential candidates on how they intend to deal with Russia. Putin has squared off against many US Presidents. He is no doubt preparing for his next adversary and we should expect actions like the flyover to increase in the months ahead. Putin will want to test the resolve of the next commander in chief, and he or she needs to prepare to react, but not overreact.