Russia, under Vladimir Putin, is becoming extremely aggressive in its military actions and posture. It is in indication that Putin is determined to return Russia to the world stage as a strong player and super power after its fall in the last few decades when it became an economic basket case. And Putin, as a pugnacious former KGB officer would, is determined to be quite blatant about his ambitions.
His push into Ukraine and other areas to capture new territory, his warnings about arming Poland, and his recent military taunting of U.S. naval and air force assets have clearly shown his willingness to take on the United States and NATO. And he has clearly demonstrated he has no respect for President Obama, and Obama has shown that he will immediately roll over whenever Putin challenges him.
The newest challenge is a spy ship that Russian has dispatched to the coast of Hawaii where naval exercises involving 25 countries are taking place, according to the U.S. Naval Institute. It is worrisome and dangerous.
A Russian Navy Bal’zam-class, “auxiliary general intelligence ship recently arrived in international waters off Hawaii where exercise Rim of the Pacific is taking place,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Clint Ramsden told USNI News this week.
“The ship’s presence has not affected the conduct of the exercise and we’ve taken all precautions necessary to protect our critical information.”
Following the March 2014 seizure of the Crimean region of Ukraine, the Russian Navy has operated more aggressively returning to levels not seen since the Cold War.
Given the participation of 25 countries, almost 50 of ships, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel operating during the exercise, it would make sense for the Russians to listen in, Clark said.
The service did not provide additional information about the ship or its origin but naval analysts contacted by USNI News surmised the ship is the Project 1826 Bal’zam class ship Pribaltika (SSV-80) operating out of Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific Coast.
Out of the Russian’s current crop of available ships designed to intercept and record the communications and electronic emissions – like radar signals — of potential adversaries, Pribaltika is the most likely ship the Russians would send to monitor RIMPAC, Chris Carlson, a retired U.S. Navy captain and naval analyst told USNI News on Wednesday.
The Russians are developing more modern AGIs but “until more modern units such as the new Yuriy Ivanov-class (Project 18280) intelligence collection ships enter service during the next few years, it makes sense that the Russians would consider sending a vessel from the older Bal’zam-class to monitor U.S. and allied naval exercises,” Eric Wertheim — naval analyst and author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World — told USNI News on Wednesday.
While the U.S. command is dismissive of the importance of the Russian spy ship, it is important to remember that although other Russian activities, including flying very close to U.S. warships or aircraft in order to intimidate them has not resulted in a mishap, it is only a matter of time before there is a more serious engagement, possibly with loss of life.
Unfortunately, our own commander in chief cannot be trusted to respond appropriately and will continue to diminish the stature and readiness of our military, which means that these Russian actions are simply the prelude to a potential future disaster.