Russia’s Military Is Behaving Like It’s Still The Cold War

Illustration for article titled Russia’s Military Is Behaving Like It’s Still The Cold War

Russia’s economy might be completely imploding, but good strongmen always find new and potentially terrifying ways of distracting from all that. One of those ways is, of course, ramping up military activity that freaks everyone out.


In line with that, Russian submarines are hunting the seas at Cold War levels, Syrian bombing campaigns are at such a clip as to be testing the limits of jet engines, and it turns out that the Russian Air Force simulated a nuclear attack on Sweden.

First up, the submarines, via the Washington Post:

The Russian submarine fleet has returned to the North Atlantic with such gusto that NATO sub commanders are reporting “more activity from Russian submarines than we’ve seen since the days of the Cold War,” according to a top NATO admiral.

Royal Navy Vice Adm. Clive Johnstone, speaking aboard a Spanish frigate at the end of last month, told the defense analysis group IHS Janes that the alliance is also seeing “a level of Russian capability that we haven’t seen before.”

Next, an Israeli surveillance satellite has captured images of Russian attack jets on the tarmac in Syrian airfields, and if anything, Russian intervention in Syria is ramping up, not slowing down (via Yediot Ahronot):

The photos also show ten Sukhoi Su-25, a lighter jet, seven advanced Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, and four advanced interception and attack Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft. Additional aircraft were likely out on aerial strikes while the satellite photos were taken.

“You can still see evidence of the vast number of attack sorties at the maintenance structures set up in the field, where Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft are going through repairs and engine replacement due to wear caused by the planes’ high level of activities in the Syrian airspace,” [head of the Fisher Institute’s missile research division Tal] Inbar added.

The arrival of the Su-35, Russia’s most advanced front-line fighter, in Syria is especially interesting, considering its primary focus on air-to-air combat, complete with thrust-vectoring engines like the American F-22 Raptor and advanced avionics.

And finally, simulated nuclear bombing runs against Sweden, of all places, via the Daily Telegraph:

Two Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bombers escorted by four Sukhoi Su-27 jet fighters crossed the Gulf of Finland and came within 24 miles of Swedish territory off the island of Gotland, 100 miles from Stockholm, on March 29, 2013.

They veered off after apparently completing dummy bombing runs against targets believed to include a military base in southern Sweden and the headquarters of Sweden’s signals intelligence agency outside Stockholm.

The incident caused controversy in Sweden at the time because the Swedish military was caught unprepared and had to rely on Danish airforce jets, operating as part of a Nato’s Baltic air policing mission, to respond.


In fairness, the United States used to do that sort of thing to antagonize Russia fairly often during the Cold War.

An Estonian armored personnel carrier fires blanks from a machine gun during a 2015 exercise.
An Estonian armored personnel carrier fires blanks from a machine gun during a 2015 exercise.

But it’s not like a recent RAND Corporation study showed that Russian forces would completely overrun Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in less than three days, or like Saudi Arabia has signaled its willingness to follow Russia’s lead, and pour ground troops into Syria, thus turning up the international flavor of the conflict even more.

Actually, all of those things are happening. But hey, at least the price of oil is supposed to stay cheap. For a little while.


Photos credit: AP/Getty Images

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I feel bad for the Russian people. The whole country is on the verge of economic collapse and their leadership is burning up scant resources on this nonsense. And for what? Is the Pentagon freaking out? Is the West gearing up for a new Cold War? No. Mostly we’re just shrugging.

Such a pointless, idiotic waste.