Vladimir Putin was so furious when President Joe Biden called him a “killer” in his first interview after taking office. The Russian president left quarantine, was vaccinated against COVID and transferred 28,000 Russian soldiers to the border with Ukraine.
“It was really a shock. And it changed his behavior a lot,” argues Pavel Baev, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for International Peace Research in Oslo.
Russian Bear bombers took action, forcing NATO to scramble 10 jets to intercept Russian warplanes that flew over the North Atlantic Ocean last week, a rare show of force near the Arctic. On Monday, Putin silently changed Russia’s constitution to allow him to remain in power until 2036. He would be 83 years old.
“Bluffing is natural for [Putin]. He’s a lot more manipulative than a warrior, “Baev said in an interview with Fox News.” War is always a risk, always a gamble. So I think he is much more about showing off, getting up, showing muscles than going to the real thing, “according to Baev, author of the Jamestown War Scare is Putin’s Natural Element report.” He’s much more about gesturing, signaling, sending messages and all kinds of things than starting a real war. “
Putin is warning Biden with a figurative “Your turn, Joe!”
Facing the fall in popularity at home, Putin returned to a “hybrid war” with the US “President Putin would love to see Russia-US relations reduced to a one-on-one battle between him 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 increase on the border with Ukraine and a continuous offensive against supporters of its main political opponent Alexei Navalny, now in prison and on a hunger strike, “Vlad the Terrible” is signaling that he is back and urging the White House to respond.
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“The Russian government is responsible for your health and well-being. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Frye urges the Biden government not to play the Putin game: “Putin has come to rely more and more on the repression of his political opponents, and I see this as a sign of weakness rather than strength,” Frye said in an interview with Fox News. “Putin is already very tired in the country. He ruled the country for 20 years and, although it remains widely popular, I think there is a desire in Russia, in many elements of Russian society, for political changes.”
So, is Putin’s new war posture just a bluff? Some experts say it is bait for the Pentagon to spend more on expensive next-generation weapons.
“There is an arms race. There is competition with the new weapons system, including hypersonic, including nuclear, but then again, the Russian economy is not the Soviet economy. The arms race is a very difficult thing to sustain, especially when you are competing. with the United States, “argues Baev. “I don’t think Putin has a long-term horizon. He is much more concerned with today and tomorrow and may be a little bit about the next day than about a sustainable arms race.”
New satellite photos of the expansion of Russian military bases and weapons testing are heightening fears of a new “Cold War” and possible arms race in the Arctic. Allies say nuclear tests can devastate the delicate ecosystem. A series of recent weapons tests by Moscow and the alarming development of a stealth nuclear powered megaton torpedo, which could devastate cities along the east coast of the United States with radioactive tsunamis, quickly caught the attention of the American military.
When three Russian submarines broke the Arctic ice in a synchronized exercise in late March, the Pentagon noticed and Putin praised the naval conquest. Each Russian submarine can carry 16 ballistic missiles.
“We are monitoring very closely. No one wants to see the Arctic as a militarized region,” Defense Department press secretary John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.
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As rising temperatures and climate change cause the polar ice to melt, the world’s Great Powers are in a race to control the Arctic and its new and valuable sea routes.
“Russia is renovating aerodromes and radar installations from the Soviet era, building new ports and search and rescue centers, and building its fleet of nuclear and conventional icebreakers. It is also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems. , thereby reinforcing its anti-access / area denial capabilities in key portions of the Arctic, “according to Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Campbell, who notes that Russia has recently established two permanent rotational detachments of Rapid reaction at two arctic aerodromes.
Commercial satellite photos show Russia expanding its military bases in the Arctic – adding 50 posts that closed at the end of the first Cold War.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Putin sees the Arctic as a priority. “The economic potential is growing every year, you know that there are general plans for national development in the Arctic zone,” which Russia needs for its newly thawed oil and gas reserves and sea routes that will shorten Europe’s routes to Asia.
Experts fear the Russian Bear is pursuing a “new Cold War” with the West, testing state-of-the-art weapons, such as a hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile launched by the Northern Fleet in the Barents Sea and developing the Poseidon – a missile from unmanned nuclear powered stealth cruise that can travel 6,000 miles along the seabed.
“It was designed to be detected, once it exploded, it can devastate coastal areas in the United States,” said Heather A. Conley, senior vice president for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic; and director of the CSIS Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program.
These hypersonic weapons looked like a joke when Vladimir Putin first presented a prototype to Russian lawmakers three years ago, suggesting that they could reach Mar-A-Lago. Now, military experts are taking them seriously and spending vast budgets to develop their own.
“Think of it as a submarine drone that spans the North Atlantic. And if it exploded in a radioactive explosion, it would be a kind of tsunami, if you want, radiating a great deal of water along the east coast and could cause untold devastation. to the United States, “Conley said in an interview with Fox.
Vice Admiral Robert Murrett is deputy director of Syracuse University’s National Security and Counterterrorism Institute and was director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for four years, overseeing the Pentagon’s top secret spy satellites until 2010. He says Russia is developing a series of weapons that are of great concern to the US military.
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“The Arctic is an incredible shortcut, whether you’re on an aircraft, under the surface of the ocean and also for intercontinental ballistic missiles, that goes back to the Cold War,” said Murrett, who spent his career watching Russian military movements.
The United States Air Force recently sent 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 diversion from his domestic opponents.