LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A U.S. Air Force General is sounding a warning in regards to recently accelerated Russian military activity over the Pacific, claiming that a number of Russian long-ranged aircraft have patrolled as far as the coast of California.
General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle said that a number of long-ranged, Russian airborne patrols over the Pacific included a Tupolev TU-95 bomber, which was intercepted by a U.S. F-15 Fighter Jet over Guam.
More troubling, according to General Carlisle, is that some of the Russian flights reportedly extended all the way to the coastline of California.
“What Russia is doing in Ukraine and Crimea has a direct effect on what’s happening in the Asia-Pacific,” Gen. Carlisle said, highlighting areas of the Pacific on a map. “Some of the things we’ve seen is their long-ranged aviation, and the increase in that… They’ve come with their long-ranged aviation out to the coast of California. They’ve circumnavigated Guam.”
A Russian expert from USC’s Center of International Studies suggests Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent moves, which have some in California feeling unsettled, may be meant to test the United States militarily, but more-so economically.
“…the last thing you want is to actually have some nineteen year old Russian fighter pilot shoot down an American jet,” Professor Ben Graham told CBS2’s Dave Bryan. “When you start playing these games, there’s always the risk of someone going too far and provoking at a level you didn’t intend.”
The risky strategy does little to calm worries that Putin is determined to rebuild to former Soviet Union, which could spark a second Cold War.
Despite this concern, Professor Graham suggests 2014 Russian Federation is nowhere near as powerful as the Soviet Union was in the 1950s.
“He’s too weak to do that,” Professor Graham said. “I mean, the Cold War emerged between a very powerful Soviet Union and a powerful West, and now we have a powerful West and a not-so-powerful Russia. There’s an upper limit on how severe Putin can make this conflict before it sinks Russia economically.”