Vladimir Putin was reportedly so angry when President Joe Biden called him a “killer” in his first interview after taking office, the Russian president left his quarantine, was vaccinated against COVID and moved 28,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine.
“It was really a shock. And that changed his behavior a lot, ”says Pavel Baev, senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for International Peace Research in Oslo.
Russian Bear bombers swung into action, forcing NATO to scramble 10 planes to intercept Russian fighter jets flying over the North Atlantic Ocean last week, a rare show of force near the Arctic. On Monday, Putin quietly changed Russia’s constitution to allow him to stay in power until 2036. He would be 83 years old.
“The bluff comes naturally to [Putin]. He is much more of a manipulator than a warrior, “Baev said in an interview with Fox News.” War is always a risk, always a gamble. So I think it’s a lot more about showing off, about posturing, about showing muscle than going for the real thing, “said Baev, author of the Jamestown Foundation report War Scare is Natural Element.” There is much more. on gestures, on signage, messaging and all kinds of things than on starting a real war. “
Putin warns Biden with a figurative “Your move, Joe!”
In the face of his weakening popularity at home, Putin returned to a “hybrid war” with the United States. “President Putin would like to see Russian-American relations reduced to a mano-a-mano battle between himself and President Biden,” according to Timothy Frye, author of the new book “Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia”.
By testing the response time of the United States and NATO with tests of hypersonic weapons in the Arctic, a military build-up on the border with Ukraine and a continued crackdown on supporters of its main political opponent Alexei Navalny , now imprisoned and on hunger strike, “Vlad the Terrible” signals that he is back and urges the White House to respond.
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“The Russian government is responsible for his health and well-being. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Frye urges the Biden administration not to play Putin’s game: “Putin is relying more and more on cracking down on his political opponents, and I see this as a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength.” Frye said in an interview with Fox News. “There is already a lot of Putin fatigue in the country. He has ruled the country for 20 years, and although he remains widely popular, I think there is a desire in Russia, many elements of Russian society for political change. “
Is Putin’s new war posture just a bluff? Some experts say it’s bait for the Pentagon to spend more on expensive next-gen weapons.
“There is an arms race. There is competition with the new weapon system, including hypersonic, including nuclear, but again, the Russian economy is not the Soviet economy. United, “argues Baev.” I don’t think Putin has a long-term horizon. It is much more about today and tomorrow and perhaps a little more about the next day than about a lasting arms race. “
New satellite photos of the expansion of Russian military bases and weapons testing raise fears of a new rise in the “cold war” and a possible arms race in the Arctic. Allies say nuclear testing could devastate the delicate ecosystem. A series of recent weapons tests carried out by Moscow and the alarming development of a nuclear-powered stealth torpedo, which could devastate cities along the US east coast with radioactive tsunamis, quickly attracted attention. of the US military.
When three Russian submarines crossed the arctic ice in a synchronized exercise at the end of March, the Pentagon took note and Putin praised the naval achievement. Each Russian submarine can carry 16 ballistic missiles.
“We are watching very closely. No one wants to see the Arctic as a region that has become militarized,” Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told Pentagon reporters.
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As rising temperatures and climate change cause polar ice to melt, the world’s great powers are in a race to control the Arctic and its precious new sea lanes.
“Russia is renovating Soviet-era aerodromes and radar facilities, building new ports and search and rescue centers, and strengthening its fleet of nuclear and conventional-powered icebreakers. It is also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems, thus strengthening its anti-access / area denial capabilities over key parts of the Arctic “, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell. , which notes that Russia recently established two permanent rotating rapid-reaction alert detachments at two arctic airfields.
Commercial satellite photos show Russia is expanding its military bases in the Arctic – adding 50 positions it closed at the end of the First Cold War.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin sees the Arctic as a priority. “The economic potential is increasing year by year, you know that there are general plans for national development in the arctic zone”, which Russia needs for its oil and gas reserves and its newly thawed waterways which will shorten the routes from Europe to Asia.
Experts fear Russian bear seeks ‘new cold war’ with the West by testing advanced weapons like a hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Northern Fleet into the Barents Sea and developing the Poseidon – an unmanned stealth nuclear-powered cruise missile that can travel 6,000 miles along the seabed.
“It’s designed to go undetected, once detonated it could devastate coastal areas of the United States,” says Heather A. Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic; and director of the Europe, Russia and Eurasia program at SCRS.
Such hypersonic weapons seemed like a joke when Vladimir Putin first presented a prototype to Russian lawmakers three years ago, suggesting they could strike Mar-A-Lago. Now, military experts take them seriously and spend huge budgets to develop theirs.
“Think of it as an underwater drone crossing the North Atlantic. And if it detonated a radioactive explosion, it would sort of create a tsunami, if you will, along the east coast radiating a tremendous amount of radiation. ‘water and could wreak untold havoc in the United States,’ Conley said in an interview with Fox.
Vice Admiral Robert Murrett is the deputy director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University and was director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for four years, overseeing satellites d top secret Pentagon espionage until 2010. He says Russia is developing a series of weapons of great concern to the US military.
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“The Arctic is a great shortcut, whether you’re on a plane, whether you’re under the surface of the ocean and also for intercontinental ballistic missiles, it dates back to the Cold War,” said Murrett, who spent his career. career. watch Russian military movements.
The US Air Force recently deployed 4 B-1 bombers to an arctic base in Norway for the first time, another sign that Putin is getting the answer he wants: attention and distraction from his domestic adversaries.
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