News and Commentary

For Second Straight Day, Russian Bombers Near Alaskan Coast

On Tuesday, in what could easily appear to be a deliberate attempt to test the resolve of President Trump, two Russian bombers flew within 35 miles of the Alaskan coast, much closer than two other bombers did on Monday.

What flies in the face of those who might assume Russian president Vladimir Putin would try to provoke Trump is the fact that Exxon, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson served as CEO before his appointment at State, has applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia so it can resume its joint venture with Russian state oil giant PAO Rosneft. The State Department is one of several U.S. government agencies that decide whether Exxon is granted a waiver.

On Monday, the U.S. military intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off Alaska’s coast, according to a Pentagon spokesman. Navy commander Gary Ross stated that two F-22 Raptor aircraft intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers when they flew within 100 miles of Alaska’s Kodiak Island. The American jets escorted the Russian bombers for 12 minutes; the Russian bombers then flew back to eastern Russia.

U.S. territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from shore.

Unlike Monday’s incident, when U.S. fighter jets were scrambled for the intercept, on Tuesday the U.S. military launched a single E-3 Sentry early warning aircraft, known as AWACS, to ensure that no other aircraft were flying underneath the Russian bombers.

Last week, when Tillerson visited Moscow, three Russian bombers flew near the east coast of Japan; the Japanese military scrambled 14 fighter jets to intercept them.