The Cold War may have ended nearly three decades ago, but tensions between the U.S. and Russia could be heating up again, at least if a report from a Russian naval officer is to be believed … which it probably shouldn’t be.
According to the Washington Examiner, a Russian submarine officer named Sergey Starshinov has claimed that the former Soviet Union conducted missions where they purposely approached U.S. military bases undetected in order to see how close Russian nuclear subs could get to American locations.
However, that claim originated in an interview with Starshinov by RT, a Russian news agency with strong ties to the government.
In other words, it’s probably little more than strategic Russian propaganda.
“This mission has been accomplished, the submarines showed up in the set location in the ocean and returned to base,” Starshinov was quoted as saying.
“This is our objective — to come and go undetected,” the naval commander purportedly told the Russian news source. He claimed that submarines came “close enough” to American shores but he maintained that the vessels stayed in neutral waters.
However, the naval official also claimed that the nuclear submarines had “reached the very coastline of the U.S.,” which would be seemingly impossible without entering American waters.
“(The) Shchuka-B submarine has been commissioned for the Soviet Navy in 1986,” RT’s report stated. “The nuclear-powered sub is capable of launching Kalibr or Granat cruise missiles, engaging underwater targets with its 553mm torpedoes, and staying submerged for up to 100 days.”
Of course, it is unlikely that the Russian officer would casually expose this information unless he knew it was authorized by the state.
The report also did not reveal the month or year when this incursion supposedly occurred, and the Pentagon — unsurprisingly — has not commented on the specific claim.
With that said, it’s no secret that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been flexing its military muscles lately, and has showed signs of Cold War-era behavior. Even if the exact details of this operation were inflated, America’s old foe has clearly been moving its military capabilities forward.
“The (Russian) submarines that we’re seeing are much more stealthy,” Adm. Mark Ferguson, then-commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, admitted to CNN in 2016. “We’re seeing (the Russians) have more advanced weapons systems, missile systems that can attack land at long ranges, and we also see their operating proficiency is getting better as they range farther from home waters.”
Another American admiral agreed, and conceded that Russian subs were able to operate fairly undetected and should be seen as a possible threat.
“We cannot maintain 100% awareness of Russian sub activity today,” retired Adm. James Stavridis told CNN. “Our attack subs are better, but not by much. Russian subs pose an existential threat to U.S. carrier groups.”
The Cold War may have thawed and led to a stalemate — and even uneasy cooperation at times — between Russia and the United States, but it is never wise to underestimate a potential adversary.
Russia’s activities in Syria, Ukraine and Crimea provide ample evidence that it may be restless to rattle the saber once again. The U.S. should stay diligent and keep its own capabilities sharp, or risk falling behind in a an increasingly unstable world.
There’s no question that Russian submarines can pose a threat to U.S. shipping and other interests — but perhaps not as much of a threat as RT would like you to believe.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.