In northeast Syria last week, a U.S. military vehicle collided with a Russian armored vehicle, injuring four American soldiers.
Both the Americans and Russians blame each other for failing to follow established rules of the road. Had an American been killed, we could have had a crisis on our hands.
Query: With the ISIS caliphate dead and buried, why are 500 U.S. troops still in Syria a year after Donald Trump said we would be pulling them out? What are they doing there to justify risking a clash with Russian troops who are in Syria as the invited allies of the Damascus regime of Bashar Assad, whether we approve of his regime or not?
Nor was this the only U.S.-Russian faceoff last week.
Over the Black Sea, two Russian military jets swept past the nose of an American B-52, one of the bombers on which the airborne leg of our strategic deterrent depends. The Russian Su-27s flew so close to the B-52 that their afterburners shook the eight-engine bomber.
What was a nuclear-capable B-52 doing over the Black Sea, which is to Russia what the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are to us?
That B-52 overflight of the Black Sea was part of an exercise in which six U.S. B-52s overflew all 30 NATO nations in one day — from the U.S. and Canada to Spain and the Balkans and to the eastern Baltic Sea — in a military exercise to test Russian air defenses.
At the end of August, the Russian navy conducted its own war games near Alaska, involving dozens of ships and aircraft, the largest such drill in these northern seas since Soviet times.
Russia’s navy chief, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, said 50 warships and 40 aircraft took part in the Bering Sea exercise, which involved multiple practice missile launches. Said the admiral:
“We are holding such massive drills there for the first time ever.”
As Trump rebuilt the U.S. military, Vladimir Putin reciprocated.
And, last week, Putin had a pointed warning for any nation that meddles in Belarus. With Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian autocrat facing huge and hostile demonstrations demanding he resign,