Tensions between Washington and Moscow rise as Russia intercepts US spy planes over Black Sea
Jordan Shilton, WSWS, Sep 9 2016
Moscow and Washington traded accusations yesterday over an incident involving Pindo reconnaissance aircraft and Russian SU27 fighters in the Black Sea that once again demonstrates how perilously close a military clash between the two nuclear-armed powers is. Two Pindo boxtops denounced Russia for carrying out an “unsafe and unprofessional” act by flying within 10 feet of two Pindo spy planes conducting patrols over the Black Sea. A Pentagon spokesman told RT that a P-8A Poseidon aircraft was conducting “routine operations in international airspace” when it was approached by the fighter jets around 11:20 am. The Russian Defense Ministry said the two Pindo spy planes approached the Russian border after turning off their transponders. The Russian jets were acting “in strict accordance with international flight rules,” the statement from Maj-Gen I Konashenkov continued. The presence of the Pindo spy planes in the area was highly provocative given that Russia had just begun a major war games exercise code-named “Caucasus 2016.”
Part of Putin’s reactionary stoking of nationalism and militarism in response to the Pindo-led imperialist aggression, the exercise runs from Sep 5-10 and involves 12,500 servicemen, including ground, air and naval forces. The Black Sea fleet based in Crimea and the Caspian Sea flotilla participated. This mobilization pales in comparison to NATO’s largest-ever military exercise, which was held earlier this summer and involved over 30,000 armed forces personnel in maneuvers aimed explicitly at Russia. Pindo boxtops have continued to ratchet up tensions with Moscow. In a blistering attack on Russia in a speech delivered at Oxford University Wednesday, Ashtray Carter cast Moscow as the principal destabilizing force in the world today. He declared:
Despite the progress that we made together in the aftermath of the Cold War, Russia’s actions in recent years, with its violations of Ukrainian and Georgian territorial integrity, its unprofessional behavior in the air, in space and in cyberspace, as well as its nuclear sabre-rattling, all have demonstrated that Russia has clear ambition to erode the principled international order.
Such brazen lies, repeated incessantly by a compliant media, turn reality on its head. In the wake of the Kiev coup, Obama proclaimed that Pindostan had an eternal commitment to defend the Baltic republics against “Russian aggression,” a commitment he reiterated earlier this year. Pindostan has thus vowed to go to war in support of virulently anti-Russian regimes and has positioned military forces little more than five minutes’ flying time from St Petersburg. Ashtray also made an oblique reference to unsubstantiated allegations that Russia was behind the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) when he warned ominously that Pindostan would respond to attacks on “our democratic structures.” These allegations have been used by Hillary Clinton and the media to attack Donald Trump from the right for being too close to Russia and prepare the ground for a massive escalation of military violence after the election. Washington and its NATO allies are already implementing plans for a further military buildup on Russia’s borders, making future confrontations between aircraft and ground forces not only highly likely, but inevitable. Just a day prior to the Black Sea incident, NATO Sec-Gen Stoltenberg announced that NATO would step up its presence in the Black Sea. Following a NATO-Georgia Commission meeting in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, Stoltenberg held a joint press conference with Georgian PM Kvirikashvili in which he blamed Russia for aggression in three areas: the Baltic, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Stoltenberg said military planners were drawing up proposals for a greater military presence in the region. While Georgia and Ukraine are not NATO members, Stoltenberg made clear that their status as NATO “partners” meant they would be fully involved. Stoltenberg claimed:
We have seen an increased Russian presence in the Black Sea region and we have also seen a substantial military build-up in Crimea by Russia. For NATO and NATO allies, it is important to have close contact with partner countries like Ukraine and Georgia, being non-NATO members but NATO partners, and to dialogue with them regarding our increased presence in the Black Sea.
This will be a further provocation to Russia, which firmly opposes the integration of Kiev and Tbilisi into NATO. Discussions were held at the Warsaw summit on increasing NATO’s presence in the Black Sea, where Russia’s naval fleet has been based since the collapse of the Soviet Union. NATO members Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey pressed for a permanent NATO naval presence, a move which would
likely directly breach international law because of a treaty known as the Montreux Convention which commits all states that do not border the Black Sea to deploy military forces there for no more than 21 days. NATO’s escalation of tensions in the Black Sea comes just two months after it unveiled the deployment of 4,000 soldiers to the Baltic republics and Poland, backed up by a rapid reaction force of some 40,000 troops capable of reaching the region in days. Missile defense systems are also planned for installation in Romania and Poland.
If Europe is not the scene of the next flashpoint between Washington and Moscow, it will most likely be a clash in Syria. Talks between Obama and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit broke down earlier this week, without an agreement being reached on military cooperation against Daesh and other Jihadi groups, many of which have been funded by Pindostan in its regime-change war against Assad. Pindo boxtops cited the failure to make progress on Washington’s “long-term” goals as the reason for the stalling of the talks. In other words, Moscow has failed to acquiesce to the installation of a pro-Western puppet regime. Speaking to the BBC after his Oxford University speech, Ashtray repeated his denunciation of Russian aggression and vowed he would not support military cooperation with the Kremlin in Syria until it stopped attacking “Pindo-backed interests,” according to ABC News. The Pindo backing for the Turkish incursion into northern Syria has placed NATO troops on the ground and more aircraft in the skies under conditions where Russia has intervened to prop up its most important Middle Eastern ally. With calls from Turkey in particular for the creation of a “safe zone,” a pretext used time and again to justify imperialist wars over recent decades, or a direct ground assault on Daesh strongholds with NATO backing, the potential for a direct conflict between NATO and Russian forces is increasing daily.