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Russian Fleet, Air Assets Expected to Begin Operating Near US Shores

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It’s been only a week since President Joe Biden’s secretary of state intimated that Ukraine might be given the green light to use U.S.-made weapons to strike inside Russian territory, and the chickens might already coming home to roost.

According to a Wednesday Miami Herald report, a senior administration official said Moscow was preparing a deployment of combat naval vessels and warplanes for military exercises in the Caribbean in the next few weeks.

The exercises will be the first that Russia has conducted in this hemisphere with both sea and air military assets in over five years. And while the exercises were planned for some time, according to CBS News, they’re still seen as a warning shot across America’s bow for getting stuck deeper in Ukraine.

According to the official, the administration expects the Russians to “conduct heightened naval and air activity near the United States,” including port calls in socialist strongholds Cuba and (possibly) Venezuela.

Both, the Herald noted, are “longstanding Russian allies that have seen occasional visits from Russian naval assets in the past two decades.”

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“Russia has sailed ships into the Western Hemisphere every year from 2013 to 2020, and has sent flights through the region that have violated the airspace of U.S. allies,” the report said.

“But the anticipated activity would be the first coordinated air and sea exercise of its kind since 2019, during the Trump administration, the official noted.”

The official said that while the exercises pose “no direct threat to the United States,” it’s a “messaging tactic” after the administration indicated its willingness to sign off on Kyiv using American-supplied military assets to strike within Russian territory, crossing a red line the Biden administration had not broached.

Speaking at a news briefing in Moldova on May 29, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Ukraine “has to make its own decisions about the best way to effectively defend itself. We’re going to make sure that it has the equipment it needs to do that.”

“Another hallmark of our support for Ukraine over these, now, more than two years has been to adapt as conditions have changed and the battlefield has changed, as what Russia does has changed in terms of how it’s pursuing its aggression and escalation,” he continued.

“We’ve adapted and adjusted, too, and I’m confident we’ll continue to do that,” Blinken said.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby didn’t back off this, either, although he said the administration did “not encourage nor do we enable attacks using U.S. weapons on Russian soil.”

“Our support to Ukraine has evolved appropriately as the battlefield conditions have evolved. And that’s not going to change. But right now, there’s also no change to our policy,” Kirby said.

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According to CBS News, the White House “cleared Ukraine to use the weapons on the Russian side of the border near the besieged Ukrainian city of Kharkiv” last week.

“The Biden administration narrowly tailored the U.S. permission to the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation and restricted the use of the weapons to targeting Russian artillery sites and other weaponry aimed at them around Kharkiv,” the report said.

“The Ukrainians are still not permitted to use U.S.-provided long-range equipment, such as the ATACMs, to hit Russia beyond that point, in order to avoid the perception of a direct U.S. escalation with Russia,” it said.

Will Russia and America go to war?

Granted, American policy shouldn’t be shaped by vague threats from its adversaries in the form of military exercises, and Russia no longer projects the same kind of military power that the former Soviet Union did at its peak.

However, the operations in the Caribbean are a reminder that Russia still is a powerful nation with a powerful military — and it also has nukes in addition to those naval vessels and military aircraft.

Whether Vladimir Putin would dare to use them is another question, although he’s been willing to rattle a glowing uranium saber on more than a few occasions during the Ukraine conflict.

An administration that doesn’t take into account Russia’s reaction to increased U.S. involvement in Ukraine risks getting us far more dug in than most Americans feel comfortable with.

With the disastrous end to one war in Afghanistan and another potential conflict brewing with China over Taiwan, it’s too dangerous to make Ukraine into a modern-day Vietnam.

What Americans want is no capitulation but no escalation, either.

Whether Biden can walk that tightrope is anyone’s guess — but if the message-sending exercises in the Caribbean are any guess, he’s not doing so hot thus far.


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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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