Last week, jets from six NATO air forces intercepted 19 Russian military aircraft in just one day. From the North Atlantic to the Baltic Sea, and down to the Black Sea, Russian fighters and bombers are probing NATO airspace in larger numbers than ever before.
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Although President Obama and many others cling to the idea that we are not in a new Cold War, the escalation of Russian military activity demands a strategic reset of U.S. and European defense budgets that are dependent on outdated assumptions about relations with Russia.
The most obvious example of the growing belligerence of Russia under President Vladimir Putin is the invasion of Ukraine to steal Crimea and wreak havoc in eastern Ukraine. While some prefer to see Russia’s war against Ukraine as an isolated case or a consequence of their special historical connection, we must not forget that it was preceded by Russia’s 2007 cyberattack against Estonia and Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008. Many still argue that what Putin does to Ukraine will not harm the West because Ukraine is not a NATO member, and that even Putin is not mad enough to initiate a direct confrontation with NATO.