Igniting a New Cold War in the Sea

Many agencies – from government to news –  are claiming a new Cold War era is arising between the United States and Russia for various reasons. Certainly, these last couple years have seen heightened tensions between the two nations. I have written before how American military is being stationed in Eastern Europe, which has resulted in Russia increasing their military.

This includes submarine activity, which Royal Navy Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone claims that it is “more activity from Russian submarines than we’ve seen since the days of the Cold War.”

From The Washington Post (click for more):

Russia’s submarine program froze as funds dried up following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recently, however, Russia has commissioned two new types of subs, including a nuclear-powered attack variant and a nuclear-powered ballistic missile class. According to Janes, they have also started modernizing older submarines as well.

Johnstone said that with these upgrades and newer boats, Russia is “freer to operate” beneath the waves, as the new technology and an increase in spending has greatly increased Russia’s capabilities. Johnstone also added that Russian submarine crews are more professional in years past, something that has also raised concern within the alliance.

While Russia’s revamped sub fleet is certainly a concern for the west, what worries Johnstone is the lack of openness about Russia’s strategic and operational objectives. The admiral added that the Russians have yet to invite a NATO representative to one of their exercises in the last two years–something that NATO does regularly.

“I’m not saying we want to be part of everything and I’m not saying that Russians are the ‘Great Bear’ or that they’re the enemy, but what we’ve got to do in this very complicated maritime environment is take out the uncertainty and reinforce the certainty,” Johnstone said.

This increase in military equipment comes when the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, that tensions are escalating “into a new Cold War,” and that NATO was “hostile and closed” toward Russia. The Polish President, Andrzej Duda, believes that we shouldn’t take this comment lightly or brush it off as hyperbole:

“If Mr Medvedev talks about a Cold War, then looking at Russian actions, it is clear who is seeking a new Cold War…If someone is undertaking aggressive military activities in Ukraine and Syria, if someone is bolstering his military presence near his neighbors…then we have an unequivocal answer regarding who wants to start a new Cold War. Certainly, it is not Poland or the NATO alliance.”

This sort of rhetoric, even if trumped up, does not help either Russia or NATO in seeking a warming of relations. In fact, it does the opposite: it only makes each party more paranoid of the other.

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