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NYT Laughs Off Russian Bomber ‘Attacks’

From New York Times:

[New York Times caption:] Tu-95 BearA gleaming Tu-95 Bear bomber posed for a glossy Soviet-era publicity still, as it might look to an intercepting NATO fighter. The bomber fleet is a bit more shopworn now.

U.S. Carrier Intercepts Russian Bombers

By Mike Nizza

February 12, 2008

If only the U.S.-Iran confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz last month was so easily sorted out. Last night, an anonymous American general broke some possibly alarming news: Over the weekend, a Russian bomber flew directly over an American aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, while another came not quite that close, but still too close for comfort, about 60 miles away.

From there, the story unfolded harmlessly in all-but-choreographed steps. After all, these Cold War titans have done this dance many times before.

They just hadn’t done it lately — not since President Vladimir V. Putin decided to resume the old Soviet practice of flying long-range patrol missions far and wide after a 15-year suspension. Last August he served warning: Here Come the Russian Bombers!

Now, a half-year later, they came in the form of four Tu-95 Bears, a type of plane that is somewhat slow and clumsy by American standards but can nonetheless carry a potentially punishing weapons load.

According to an account from The Associated Press, the flock of Bears first raised alarms over Japan, where officials say that Japanese national airspace was violated — a bomber overflew an uninhabited island south of Tokyo, they said.

American Navy vessels tracked the Bears as they went, and then let slip the jet-fueled hounds:

As the bombers got about 500 miles out from the U.S. ships, four F/A-18 fighters were launched from the Nimitz, the official said. The fighters intercepted the Russian bombers about 50 miles south of the Nimitz.

At least two U.S. F/A-18 Hornets trailed the bomber as it came in low over the Nimitz twice, while one or two of the other U.S. fighters followed the second bomber as it circled.

There was no further escalation, no messages were exchanged between the two sides and no formal protest will be filed to Moscow, The A.P. continued. The military escaped a whole lot of paperwork during the Cold War by keeping this game on the field, and away from the diplomats.

An aide to Russia’s Air Force commander didn’t rattle any sabers. “We are surprised by the commotion that has been raised over this,” Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky told the official RIA Novosti news agency. “We submit all necessary requests well in advance and deliver proper notifications.”

A Russian defense official emphasized that no rules were broken during what was termed standard operating procedure for air force training, according to CNN.

Another explanation for the Russian shoulder-shrugging may be found in a remark made about another airborne encounter last summer near Guam. The American and Russian aircraft involved didn’t come anywhere near danger, Maj. Gen. Pavel Androsov said. They simply “exchanged smiles.”

Isn’t it all just too cute? And why not?

What could possibly be wrong with Russian bombers staging a mock attack on the USS Nimitz and its battle group at low altitude?

And not just once but twice?

[T]he flock of Bears first raised alarms over Japan, where officials say that Japanese national airspace was violated — a bomber overflew an uninhabited island south of Tokyo, they said…

A Russian defense official emphasized that no rules were broken during what was termed standard operating procedure for air force training…

Isn’t it telling whom the New York Times chooses to believe.

Hey, never mind that Mr. Putin has practically announced that the Cold War is back on.

The Times still wants to snuggle.

After all, they’re ultimately on the same side.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, February 12th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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