Russia appears to be on a journey to re-establish itself as a world power. Vladimir Putin and his underlings rarely ever miss a chance to mock President Barack Obama on his lack of machismo on social networking websites. Beginning with flyover by Russian bombers last fall, to the national headlines about Russian spies in the United States, and most recently increase hostilities in the Ukraine, Russia seems laser-focused on becoming a country to be reckoned with on the global stage.
Is World War 3 looming around the next corner? Could a scene from the cult classic '80s movie Red Dawn actually occur on American soil? The United States must not be so focused on fighting the war on terror and the not-so "JV" threat posed by ISIS that our leaders neglect to recognize the other emerging cloud on the horizon.
Russia is planning to invade the Ukraine port of Mariupol this spring, according to at least one top United States intelligence official. Vladimir Putin reportedly considers the Ukrainian port a “strategic” location.
To date, Russia had not been able to establish a secure supply route through Crimea. In 2014, Vladimir Putin was able to annex the Black Sea peninsula. Many in the intelligence community said such a move would indicate a significant enhancement of hostilities in the area. Putin has been forced to employ ferry services across the Kerch Strait to move supplies and equipment to the area.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper had this to say about Vladimir Putin’s plans for Ukraine and the increased presence of Russian power in the region.
“It is not our assessment that he is bent on capturing or conquering all of Ukraine. He wants a whole entity composed of the two oblasts [regions] in eastern Ukraine which would include a land bridge to Crimea and perhaps a port, specifically Mariupol. We do not believe that an attack on Mariupol is imminent. I believe they will wait until the spring before they attack.”
Director Clapper also warned that Russian rebels are now “reconstituting and regrouping” along the Ukrainian border. Increased fighting in the region, ahead of a planned ceasefire, has reportedly increased fears that Russia will launch an attack on the Sea of Azov port in Mariupol.
Vladimir Putin claims his nation will boast “military superiority” over the West until at least 2020. Putin is allegedly moving ahead with plans to enhance Russia’s nuclear arsenal despite a recession prompted by decreasing oil prices and sanctions levied by the United States. Although the exact state of Russia’s nuclear capabilities is not known, military officials reportedly believe that the nation led by Vladimir Putin currently possesses 8,500 warheads – 1,000 more than the United States reportedly possesses.
Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the head of U.S. Military Intelligence, told Congress during a Senate hearing that Putin and the Russians “will up the ante if we do any lethal aid or take any actions to bolster the equation.”
Russia’s top military general, Valery Gerasimov, recently said that Vladimir Putin’s army will receive more than 50 new nuclear missiles with intercontinental capabilities in 2014. A multi-billion military modernization plan is also reportedly underway in Moscow.
“Support for our strategic nuclear forces to ensure their high military capability combined with growth of the military potential of the general forces will assure that [the United States and NATO] do not gain military superiority over our country,” General Gerasimov said. “Western countries are actively using new forms of aggression, combining military as well as non-military means. Political, economic and information methods are also being used.”
Russian bombers were intercepted by NATO jets following a series of “unusual air activity” over the Baltic, North Sea, Atlantic and the Black Sea last fall. NATO planes were reportedly scrambled to “shadow” the Russian bombers flying over the Black Sea and the Atlantic, as well at Vladimir Putin’s fighter planes over the Baltic.