(NaturalNews) The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but under the stewardship of President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, a new cold war between Russia and the United States appears to be forming. At least, it’s cold for now.
Over the past 30 months, Russian strategic (read nuclear) forces have begun testing U.S. defenses on a much more regular basis. The most recent attempt occurred just days ago when a pair of Russian strategic bombers practiced cruise missile attacks on the U.S. during a training mission — a mission that U.S. officials said was timed to coincide with a NATO summit in Wales aimed at developing a plan to blunt Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine.
American and Canadian systems picked up and tracked the aged Tu-95 “Bear-H” bombers flying a line across the northern Atlantic Ocean “near Iceland, Greenland, and Canada’s northeast,” the Free Beacon news site reported, adding:
Analysis of the flight indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined “launch box”–an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets, said defense officials familiar with intelligence reports.
Testing of U.S. defenses have been increasing
The disclosure of the latest Russian nuclear forces training came amid a call by a Russian general the prior week for Moscow to adjust its military doctrine to include a first-strike option against the U.S. and NATO.
“Gen. Yuri Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, was quoted by the state-run Interfax news agency as saying that Russia’s 2010 military doctrine should be revised to identify the United States and the NATO alliance as enemies, and clearly outline the conditions for a preemptive nuclear strike against them,” the Free Beacon reported.
Among other necessary doctrinal changes, Yakubov said, “it is necessary to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a preemptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces,” which are the Russian army’s nuclear forces.
The recent practice launch runs are just the latest in a string of such missions that involve aggressive Russian bomber flights near U.S. airspace. The Free Beacon said a number of analysts believe that the flights amount to nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow over escalating tensions surrounding Ukraine.
No U.S. or Canadian interceptors were launched against the Bear-H bombers because the Russian planes remained outside the North American Air Defense Identification Zone. However, not all missions in recent months have done so; U.S. and allied aircraft have scrambled often since 2011 in response to Russian aircraft.
At the NATO summit, officials issued a statement that criticized “Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine [which] have fundamentally challenged our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”
Russia upgrading its nuclear forces
The Tu-95 is a dual-turboprop bomber that first entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1956. Like its American jet-powered counterpart, the B-52, the Bear has undergone a number of upgrades and revisions since it was first introduced. Its most modern version is designed to carry six AS-15 nuclear-armed cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 1,800 miles.
“Google Earth analysis reveals that a Tu-95 launch box located in the Labrador Sea and firing AS-15 missiles would be in range of Ottawa, New York, Washington, and Chicago, and could reach as far south as the Norfolk Naval base,” the Free Beacon reported.
Other Russian moves regarding its nuclear force in recent months include:
— Moscow is developing new nuclear weapons to counter the U.S. and NATO. According to the New York Post, Russia recently tested a new sea-based weapon that was launched from a submarine. “We have warned many times that we would have to take corresponding countermeasures to ensure our security,” Putin told a gathering of officials at the Kremlin, adding that he was now going to take personal charge of the government commission overseeing military industries.
— In early August, the Free Beacon reported that Russian aircraft had tested U.S. air defenses at least 16 times in the previous 10 days.
— In 2012, Interfax reported that Russia had tested a new fifth-generation intercontinental ballistic missile designed to counter U.S. anti-missile defenses.
Meanwhile, there have been no reports that U.S. aircraft have been testing Russian air defense forces.