They're in international waters, and as FOXNews put it:
"...While the incident raises eyebrows, it did not trigger the more intense reaction by the U.S. military that Russia prompted when two of its bombers buzzed an American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific in February 2008. U.S. fighter planes intercepted the two Russian fighters, including one that flew directly over the USS Nimitz twice at an altitude of about 2,000 feet...."I think "raised eyebrows" is a pretty good response. Although the submarines are nowhere near doing a real-life recreation of the sort of silliness featured in "The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming," I also think it's reasonable to wonder what they're doing there.
This week's situation is nowhere near as provocative - and goofy - as the buzzing of the Nimitz, back in February of 2008. As I wrote then, "...Russia seems to be reverting to the Soviet Union-era habit of flexing military muscle...."
There may be a reasonable purpose in having submarines patrolling international waters off the east coast. Or, not.
Russian Submarines: A Diplomatic Gesture?I think it's very possible that the presence of those submarines as a sort of diplomatic gesture.
"...The latest incident, which was first reported by The New York Times, comes amid increased Russian military activity in the region, and as the administration of President Obama works to thaw tense relations with Moscow over plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe.That "missile defense system in Central Europe" is something that Russia's Putin likened to ballistic missiles that the Soviet Union set up in Cuba, a few decades back. (October 26, 2007)
"Just last week a senior Pentagon official said the administration is looking at options for the plan, which would install 10 interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow told Congress members that the Obama administration is looking at various configurations as part of its review of missile defense plans...."
What Possible Reason Could There be For Missile Defense Systems in Europe?The defense system could suggest that it was intended, at least in part, to defend Europe from incoming missiles from Iran. Why Mr. Putin didn't want the system to be set up isn't entirely clear to me. I suppose it could have something with Russian politics: playing on a fear of big, bad America and those Yankee imperialists we've heard so much about.
Iran does, however, have a dozen X-55 Long Range Cruise Missiles. It looks like someone in Ukraine sold the cruise missiles to Iran - illegally - around 2005.
Good news: The cruise missiles weren't shipped with the nuclear warheads they're designed to deliver.
Bad news: With a range of 3,000 km, they could reach parts of eastern Europe.
More bad news: Iranian leaders' protestations notwithstanding, there's a very good chance that Iran is on its way to building its own nuclear bombs.
- "Iran Has Heavy Metal for Bomb, No Bomb: Yet"
(March 1, 2009)
- "Iran Launched Satellite, Probably: and North Korea's Preparing for Launch"
(February 3, 2009)
- " 'Quagmire's' Back: Georgia, Russia, NATO, Bush, and the Blame Game"
(August 24, 2008)
- "Iranian Nukes, Israeli Attack, Diplomacy, and Common Sense"
(June 21, 2008)
- "Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and the War on Terror"
(August 10, 2008)
- "What is Russia Thinking?"
(February 12, 2008)
- "Russian Official Declares First-Strike Nuke Policy: Why?"
(January 19, 2008)
- "Ballistic Missiles in Cuba = Anti-Missile System in Europe?"
(October 26, 2007)
- "Russian subs patrolling off U.S. east coast: report"
Reuters (August 4, 2009)
- "AP sources: Russian subs patrolling off East Coast"
The Associated Press (August 4, 2009)
- "Defense Officials: Russian Subs Patrolling off East Coast of United States"
FOXNews (August 4, 2009)