Russia's Strategic Bombers To Patrol The World's Skies For Rest Of October
Putin : Iran Is Not Afraid Of US, Israel "Believe Me"
Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has received a warm welcome during his visit to Iran, and he again warned the United States not to attack Iran. To back up his warning, and to make clear that airstrikes on Iran will draw his promised "consequences", Putin has placed his arsenal of strategic, long-range bombers on airborne stand-by for the rest of the month.
The warning from Putin to the US grabbed most of the headlines around the world, but the significance of his warning to the Caspian states Russia and Iran are now economically, and strategically, allied with, is probably the bigger story. Putin is telling the oil and gas rich Caspian sea states that they don't need, and should not pursue, military alliances with the United States. This is obviously a remarkably important development :
At a summit of the five nations that border the inland Caspian Sea, Putin said none of the nations' territory should be used by any outside countries for use of military force against any nation in the region. It was a clear reference to long-standing rumors that the U.S. was planning to use Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, as a staging ground for any possible military action against Iran.
"We are saying that no Caspian nation should offer its territory to third powers for use of force or military aggression against any Caspian state," Putin said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also underlined the need to keep outsiders away from the Caspian.
From RIA :
"The Caspian Sea is an inland sea and it only belongs to the Caspian states, therefore only they are entitled to have their ships and military forces here," he said.
Putin, whose trip to Tehran is the first by a Kremlin leader since World War II, warned that energy pipeline projects crossing the Caspian could only be implemented if all five nations that border the Caspian support them.
Putin did not name any specific country, but his statement underlined Moscow's strong opposition to U.S.-backed efforts to build pipelines to deliver hydrocarbons to the West bypassing Russia.
"Projects that may inflict serious environmental damage to the region cannot be implemented without prior discussion by all five Caspian nations," he said.
Other nations bordering the Caspian Sea and in attendance at the summit are: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
Putin has warned the U.S. and other nations against trying to coerce Iran into reining in its nuclear program and insists peaceful dialogue is the only way to deal with Tehran's defiance of a U.N. Security Council demand that it suspend uranium enrichment.
"Threatening someone, in this case the Iranian leadership and Iranian people, will lead nowhere," Putin said Monday during his trip to Germany. "They are not afraid, believe me."
The Russian president underlined his disagreements with Washington last week, saying he saw no "objective data" to prove Western claims that Iran is trying to construct nuclear weapons.
Putin emphasized Monday that he would negotiate in Tehran on behalf of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members _ United States, Russia, China, Britain and France _ and Germany, a group that has led efforts to resolve the stalemate with Tehran.
Russian strategic bombers will conduct October 16-30 a series of long-range training flights, with simulated bomber raids and missile launches, an Air Force spokesman said on Monday.
"Russian strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22M3, and Il-78 aerial tankers will conduct flights over the Arctic region, the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and the Black Sea, with simulated bombing raids and firing of cruise missiles at testing grounds in northern and southern Russia," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.
Colonel General Alexander Zelin, the commander of the Russian Air Force, will supervise the exercises.
Moscow announced in mid-August that regular patrol flights by strategic bombers had been resumed, and would continue on a permanent basis, with patrol areas including commercial shipping and economic production zones.
The U.S. administration expressed concern about the resumption of patrol flights by Russian strategic bombers.
"I think the rapid growth in Russian military spending definitely bears watching," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with ABC News on October 14.
"And frankly, some of the efforts - for instance, Bear flights in areas that we haven't seen for a while - are really not helpful to security."
Russia, however, obviously believes they are helpful to security. The security of Iran.