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Russia’s naval presence highest in 25 years in Atlantic and Mediterranean, experts say

Aerial starboard bow view of a Russian Navy Northern Fleet Delta II class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine underway on the surface. (U.S. Navy)
August 15, 2018

Officials from the Pentagon and NATO are warning that Russia has increased its naval activity in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

Russia’s submarine operations are now at their highest level since the Cold War, according to a report from Fox News last week.

The U.S. Navy is responding to the increased deployment of Russian submarines by standing up a new command in late August.

U.K. armed forces are also making defense strategy adjustments due to Russia’s increased aggression. The Royal Navy recently sent the HMS Diamond to escort two Russian warships through the English Channel. This is the second time that the vessel has had to confront Russian Navy warships. The Royal Navy now keeps warships on standby 24 hours a day, so they’re ready for similar interactions.

A video of the HMS Diamond escorting the Russian ships was posted this week on the Royal Navy’s Twitter account.

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, recently said to VOA that Russia’s submarine presence in the North Atlantic is “more than we’ve seen in 25 years.”

“Even five years ago, we wouldn’t have seen anything like this. They’re certainly a pacing competition for us in terms of the naval threat,” Richardson continued.

The surge in Russian submarines comes just days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met at the Pentagon with his British counterpart Gavin Williamson.

Mattis isn’t concerned about the increase in Russian submarines and insists that the U.S. is always prepared.

“We always keep an eye on the submarines at sea and I prefer not to say any more than that,” Mattis said, in a report from Fox News.

Despite President Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, there are no signs of Moscow adjusting its foreign policy to satisfy the U.S.

“I think Russia is signaling to us that the Bear is back. We are likely to see more of this intimidating, threatening operations on the part of the Russian fleet. This is an expression of President Putin’s foreign policy and it’s directed towards the United States,” said Peter Brookes, a senior fellow for national security affairs at the Heritage Foundation.

President Trump has continued to signal his willingness for an ease of tensions with Russia, despite top intelligence officials accusing Russia of election meddling, and the indictment of Russian officers for cybercrimes.

“Maybe we will get along with Russia. I think we probably will be able to,” President Trump said during a news conference in July.

President Trump has also insisted that Putin shouldn’t want to be on his bad side. A week after the Helsinki summit, he said: “I’ll be the worst enemy he’s ever had.”