The United States Navy Admiral Michelle Howard wears many hats, and all of them are involved in Russian Navy issues. Her latest observation is that the Russian Navy has not been this active in a long time, back to the Cold War, even. The Admiral’s concern is that it is hard to keep NATO focused on the threat.
As Written By Andrea Shalal for REUTERS:
Recent Russian naval activity in Europe exceeds levels seen during the Cold War, a top U.S. and NATO military officer said, voicing concern that the distributed nature of the deployments could end up “splitting and distracting” the transatlantic alliance.
Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, who heads NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples and commands U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, said Russia had clearly stepped up its naval actions in recent years although the size of its navy was smaller now than during the Cold War era.
“We’re seeing activity that we didn’t even see when it was the Soviet Union. It’s precedential activity,” Howard told Reuters in an interview late on Saturday during a missile defense conference.
Howard cited a wide range of activities, including Russia’s deployment of its Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean, increased patrols in the north Atlantic and Arctic region, significant out-of-area submarine deployments, and submarine movement in the Black Sea.
“They’re a global navy, I understand that. But the activity in this theater has substantially moved up in the last couple of years,” Howard said.
She said there was a danger that members of the NATO alliance would focus on the area of interest closest to them, while losing sight of Russian activities in other areas.
“When … you think about what happens when they move forces around, you look at the alliance and they end up splitting and distracting the view of the alliance,” she said.
Howard’s comments came amid a sharp escalation in tensions between Russia and the United States after Washington launched 59 cruise missiles against an air base in Syria in retaliation for a deadly toxic gas attack that killed scores of people.
Howard said the Russian naval maneuvers had been matched by increased persistent cyber attacks by Moscow, and a steady number of unprofessional “fly bys” by Russian aircraft of U.S. and other allied vessels at sea.
Ties between Moscow and the West have been strained since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014 and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
NATO has built up physical forces in Poland and the Baltic states to build up a deterrent and…….
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