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article imageOp-Ed: Close encounters of the Cold War kind

By Robert Weller     Nov 12, 2014 in Politics
Moscow - NATO has confirmed Russian tanks have crossed into the eastern Ukraine as Moscow declares it is sending its bombers to Western borders as it did during the Cold War.
Kiev had reported Russian tanks crossing into its territory a week ago.
NATO commander Gen. Phillip Breedlove said: “Forces, money, support, supplies, weapons are flowing back and forth across this border completely at will and that is not a good situation,” the Guardian reported.
It is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks his country is a match for Western powers, and will not accept that it is a mid-range power.
Some economists are terming the conflict as centered more on currencies than weapons, and Russia is losing that war with its ruble at its lowest levels ever.
Putin’s countrymen are being forced to pay higher taxes, which it can do without public announcements with the media unable to report such events. The collapse of the world oil price has panicked investors. “As oil prices slumped toward $80 per barrel recently, many Russians looked nervously back at the collapse of the Soviet Union,” wrote Christopher Miller in the Moscow Times.
Russia’s Central Bank has had to intervene to stop a run on foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar.
Things are so bad Putin apparently believes shouting louder will turn things around. Thus he has created a news producer, named after the 1957 Sputnit satellite. This outdated technology contrasted with the Rosetta spacecraft that Europe was able to launch and land on a comet Thursday.
Russia’s denial of the presence of its forces in eastern Ukraine lack credibility after it sent its “green men” into the Crimea and then pinned medals on them.
The European Leadership Network earlier this week reported 40 dangerous near misses between Western and Russian planes and ships in the past eight months.
The London-based group said Western militaries have chosen to challenge Russian attempts to reassert its military prowess.
“These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a wide geographical area,” said the group, in a report entitled “Dangerous Brinkmanship.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu defended his military’s actions and indicated more encounters were likely.
He blamed the West for opposing Russian actions in the Ukraine.
"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 told Russia’s military council.
The Washington Post reported Shoigu said long-range planes will conduct “reconnaissance missions to monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications.”
The Pentagon refused to take the bait, and said Moscow has the right to fly its planes over international waters as long as it observes international standards.
Russian TV said Kiev was massing troops in eastern Ukraine for an offensive. The Moscow Times quoted the Ukrainian government as saying it had redeployed troops because of a feared Russian offensive.
Putin may think Obama is in a weak position after election losses. It is a risky gamble. The one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on is the Russian threat.
Keith Darden, an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, writes: "In some ways, it increases President Obama's leverage in his negotiations with the Russians, to the extent that those exist, because basically there is always a threat that Congress is going to act on its own.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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