This is the wonderful news we woke up to this morning on the East Coast:
A Russian Air Force chief said Saturday that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered an island as a temporary base for strategic Russian bombers, the Interfax news agency reported. The chief of staff of Russia’s long range aviation, Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, also said Cuba could be used to base the aircraft, Interfax reported.The Kremlin, however, said the situation was hypothetical.
Zhikharev said Chavez had offered “a whole island with an airdrome, which we can use as a temporary base for strategic bombers,” the agency reported. “If there is a corresponding political decision, then the use of the island … by the Russian Air Force is possible.” Interfax reported he said earlier that Cuba has air bases with four or five runways long enough for the huge bombers and could be used to host the long-range planes.
Independent military analyst Alexander Golts said from a strategic point of view there was nothing for Russia to gain from basing long-range craft within relatively short range of U.S. shores. “It has no military sense. The bombers don’t need any base. This is just a retaliatory gesture,” Golts said, saying Russia wanted to hit back after U.S. ships patrolled Black Sea waters. Moscow and the new U.S. administration of President Barack Obama have appeared to want to mend their relations, which reached a post-Cold War low last year when Russia’s invasion of U.S. ally Georgia compounded disputes on security and democracy.
There is no strategic necessity to base the bombers in Latin America or the Caribbean (since they could reach their supposed targets from existing airfields/bases), so this is most likely a bit of political muscle flexing to tweak President Obama.
It will be interesting to see how the new administration deals with this. My guess is that the increased meddling of the Russians, along with the growing influence of the Chinese, and the rising instability in Mexico, will force Washington to focus much more on Latin America than the previous administration did.
We’ll see. . .
UPDATE: Here is the “above the fold” currently running on Drudge:
Looks like Drudge is attempting to paint this Russian Bomber thing as the fruition of Biden’s election season “Mark My Words” theme, eh?