Russia plans bomber flights over Gulf of Mexico

Russia plans bomber flights over Gulf of Mexico

Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping his country in the headlines. This time, Russia is making news by saying its long-range bombers will conduct regular patrol missions that extend from the Artic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

"The truth is, we don't know what Putin is up to - nobody ever knows what Putin is up to, and he will lie about what he's actually up to,” said Chris Fettweis, an international relations expert who also teaches political science at Tulane University.

Russia's move comes as NATO has noted an increase in Russian military flights over the Black, Baltic and North seas and the Atlantic Ocean.

"He's probably trying to just flex muscles a bit,” continued Fettweis.

It is all thought to be a result of the growing tensions between Russia and the west over the Ukraine.

"It's a sign that he wants to be more international, that they're still relevant,” Fettweis said.

"With them seeing strategic bombers flying over Afghanistan, for example, providing close air support, which is something our strategic bombers can do, they're jealous and they want to get to that point,” said Adam Exnicios, a former Army major and ex-foreign area officer who worked at embassies in Ukraine.

He also speaks Russian.

“I focused on what's known as Eurasia is what we'd call it, former Soviet Union would be another way to look at it,” said Exnicios.

Exnicios said the U.S. employs similar air patrol strategies.

“We have planes that fly 12 miles and one foot right off of their coast, in international waters, listening to what they're doing,” said Fettweis.

"The only reason there was really any lack of it occurring was there was a certain point where the Russians were really having a hard time repairing their aircraft and having their aircraft in a position to do this,” said Exnicios.

'The message for us is that it's not that big of a deal. They're going to be flying over international air space and be landing probably in Venezuela, Nicaragua - places that are a little bit more friendly to Putin these days,” said Fettweis.

Still, Russia's plans bring up memories of the failed U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Soviet Union's secret agreement to place nuclear missiles in Cuba during the Cold War.

“There's people that have been worrying about this kind of thing, that the Russians would ally themselves closely with the Venezuelans because the Venezuelans have a cockamamie leader, too, but they're not as strong as they were, so it's not as much as a concern for us,” said Fettweis.

“I don't think we're looking at really getting to Cold War levels again. It's not really how the game is played," said Exnicios.

But with cruise ships plentiful in the Gulf's waters, the public may be concerned about an accident.

"That would probably be the most likely thing I could see happening. I mean, if a Russian bomber has problems and has to ditch into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Exnicios.

"It would have to be a real bad piece of bad luck to have one of these bombers collide and have something crash on your cruise ship,” Fettweis said.

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