Adm. William Gortney, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, AKA the man who is in charge of preventing attacks against the United States had some unsettling things to say at a recent Pentagon briefing in Washington, DC.
“They’re messaging us that they’re a global power,” he said. “The numbers have gone up, but I don’t like to give percentages, because one to five is 500 percent [and] that may overstate it. But the numbers have gone up, and where they’re flying are different,”
An article by journalist Kristina Wong said: Gortney said Russia has increasingly conducted long-range flights up around Canada, Alaska and down the English Channel, although he did not specify when.
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So far, the Russian aircraft are still adhering to international standards. But, he added, “we watch very carefully what they’re doing.”
He said the flights have caused him to question Russia’s long-term intent, adding that the U.S. has recently tracked two Russian ships — a spy ship and a logistics ship — near Cuba and Venezuela.
Relations between the U.S. and Russia have been increasingly strained since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
Since then, Russia has armed and trained pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine, U.S. and Western officials say. Russia denies providing military assistance to the rebels.
The U.S., along with the European Union, has levied several rounds of sanctions on Russia for the invasion, and provided Ukraine with economic support, as well as about $120 million in non-lethal military assistance.
Gortney said Moscow has developed a “far more capable military than the quantitative, very large military that the Soviet Union had.”
“Also, they published a new doctrine. You’re seeing that bear out. You’re seeing them employ that capability and that doctrine in the Ukraine,” he said.
Gortney’s comments echoed warnings he made last month during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
“This past year has marked a notable increase in Russian military assertiveness,” he said in prepared remarks for a March 13 hearing, according to CNN.
He said Russian heavy bomber aircraft flew more patrols outside Russian airspace “than in any year since the Cold War.”
Gortney also warned that Russia is continuing to work on its program to deploy “long range conventionally armed cruise missiles” that can be launched from bomber aircraft, submarines and warships.
“Should these trends continue over time, [we] will face increased risk in our ability to defend North America against Russian air, maritime and cruise missile threats,” he said.
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