U.S. Alerts Asia to Russia’s Long-Range Bomber Patrols
“Ukraine and Crimea is a challenge for us, and it’s a challenge for us in the Asia-Pacific as well as Europe,” Carlisle said. “The number of long-range aviation patrols that have gone around the Japanese islands as well as around Korea have increased drastically.” Russia’s ability to contribute to the development of the Asia-Pacific region has been “badly compromised” by its annexation of Crimea, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said at a briefing today in Hong Kong. “It is unacceptable for large countries to use force against small neighbors with impunity and we look to the international community, including countries in the Asia-Pacific region, to send a strong signal to Russia that it should reverse course and use peaceful means to address its border disputes,” Russel said.
Putin’s demonstrations of strength prompted Japan to scramble fighter jets for seven consecutive days in April in response to what the Asian nation’s defense chief described as “abnormal” Russian flights. Minister Itsunori Onodera said the patrols were more frequent than during the Cold War, Kyodo reported. Russia responded that the flights were in accordance with international law and urged Japan to return to talks with Russia on avoiding dangerous military activity. Japan will stage an island defense drill around its southwestern region starting May 10, the Defense Ministry said. The announcement followed a Voice of Russia report that China and Russia would hold a joint drill in the East China Sea in late May. Russia’s Foreign Ministry on April 29 also criticized Japan’s “clumsy” sanctions in response to events in Ukraine. It said in a statement that the penalties were imposed by the government in Tokyo under “external pressure,” while stopping short of specifying the U.S. Carlisle said one of the challenges for the region was Russia’s lack of transparency on its military maneuvers. “What’s happening in Ukraine today is causing some significant concerns into Asia-Pacific,” he said.