While Biden keeps talking about Ukraine, America is under siege at home. Our enemies are closing in and testing us. From China’s spy balloons and hacks to this latest incursion, the threats are close to home.
A combined Russian and Chinese naval force patrolled near the coast of Alaska earlier this week in what U.S. experts said appeared to be the largest such flotilla to approach American shores.
Eleven Russian and Chinese ships steamed close to the Aleutian Islands, according to U.S. officials. The ships, which never entered U.S. territorial waters and have since left, were shadowed by four U.S. destroyers and P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
“It is a historical first,” said Brent Sadler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a retired Navy captain.
It’s also an escalation.
In contrast, a lone U.S. Coast Guard cutter was on the scene when a flotilla of seven Russian and Chinese ships operated in September near the Aleutians off Alaska.
Aerial encounters have been increasing.
U.S. fighter jets intercepted Russian bomber aircraft near Alaska Monday, according to the Alaskan Region of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
This marks the first incident in the area since an American drone was downed by Russian forces last month.
U.S. military command officials said in March that a Russian Su-27 fighter jet dumped fuel on a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over the Black Sea, clipped the drone’s propeller and forced it into the water.
The Kremlin issued state awards to the fighter jet pilots responsible for downing the U.S. drone.
This is an escalation that we’re not paying attention to.
The crew of the Bristol Leader was laying out its long cod-catching line well within U.S. fishing territory in the Bering Sea when a voice crackled over the VHF radio and began issuing commands: The ship was in danger, it said, and needed to move.
The warnings, coming in a mixture of Russian and accented English from a plane buzzing overhead, grew more specific and more urgent. There was a submarine nearby, the voice said. Missiles were being fired. Leave the area.
Other U.S. fishing vessels that were scattered over 100 miles of open sea were getting similar messages. Capt. Steve Elliott stood dumbfounded on the trawler Vesteraalen as three Russian warships came barreling through, barking orders of their own. On the ship Blue North, commands from a Russian plane led Capt. David Anderson to contact the U.S. Coast Guard, wondering how to protect his crew of 27.
“It was frightening, to say the least,” Captain Anderson said. “The Coast Guard’s response was: Just do what they say.”
Russians have refurbished and restored dozens of military posts in the Arctic region, including on Wrangel Island, some 300 miles from the coast of Alaska, and have laid plans for controlling emerging navigation routes that would bring traffic through the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.
Tim Thomas, a U.S. captain on the fishing vessel Northern Jaeger, encountered the Russian activities on Aug. 26 when his ship was operating more than 20 nautical miles inside the U.S. economic zone. After a Russian plane directed Captain Thomas to take his boat out of the area, he said, he responded that he was within the U.S. zone, not on the Russian side, and that the Russians could not order them to leave.
At that point, he said, a Russian military ship joined in and issued similar orders.
“At this point, I’m going, ‘What’s going on here? Are we getting invaded?’” Captain Thomas said in an interview.
Weakness has consequences.