For those paying attention, Russia has become considerably more¬†forceful in the last year.¬† From military intervention in Ukraine over
control of the Crimea peninsula, to substantial increases in air¬†platform surveillance and military flights around Japan, to incursions¬†into northwestern U.S. and Canadian air defense zones, to submarine¬†and spy ship activities off the eastern and gulf coasts of the U.S.,¬†suspected computer system hacking of major American banks and maybe¬†even the shoot down of a Malaysian passenger plane, Vladimir Putin has¬†the Russian bear roaring for all to hear.
Putin is a devout nationalist who pines for the glory days of the¬†Soviet Empire and all the muscle and influence that once made it a¬†great super-power.¬† His attempts to regain what he believes Mikhail¬†Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin threw away have been documented and discussed¬†almost to exhaustion, but this latest show of force has more¬†ominous tones than merely the flexing of renewed confidence.
Remember that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a retired Lt.¬†Colonel in the infamous KGB where he initially served in the Second¬†Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence). He spent the bulk of his career in The First Chief Directorate, the organization responsible¬†for foreign operations and intelligence collection activities by the¬†training and management of the covert agents, intelligence collection¬†management, and the collection of political, scientific and technical¬†intelligence.
It is, then, no coincidence that Putin‚??s push comes following Edward¬†Snowden‚??s theft of terabytes of data from the National Security Agency
(NSA) and his flight to and residence in Russia.¬† Snowden‚??s cover has¬†been that he is a whistleblower inspired by conscience to reveal NSA
surveillance of American citizens.¬† Despite the massive amount of¬†information Snowden stole, that which he uses to justify his actions¬†amount to a miniscule portion of the total take.¬† So what else did he¬†take that he has not shared with the world?¬† And who else has it?
The Japanese Defense Ministry says instances of Russian bomber and spy¬†sorties near and sometimes within Japan‚??s air defense zone has ‚??more¬†than doubled‚?Ě in the last six months.¬† Actual incursions into the zone¬†have jumped by 70%.
Is Russia afraid of Japan?¬† Is it worried that Japanese forces are¬†gathering in Hokkaido to launch an attack on Kamchatka?¬† Of course¬†not.¬† What the Russian military is doing is testing; not aircraft and¬†ships, but intelligence collection capabilities.
In the flights near Japan, Russian bombers are intentionally lighting¬†up Japanese and American defense detection and tracking capabilities.
The surveillance aircraft and their ground control and support units¬†are monitoring fighter scrambles and testing Command and Control
Communications (C3), radar, telemetry, Japan Air Self Defense¬†Force/U.S. Pacific Air Force interaction, scramble codes, communications frequencies and even satellite coverage and accuracy.¬†In doing so, Russia can better assess their own ability to operate in¬†an intelligence collection-rich environment and do so near their own¬†border. But it is likely that Russia is doing more than just tweaking¬†responses. They may well be testing new capabilities.
Jane‚??s Defence Weekly reports the Russian defense budget will grow by¬†18.4% in 2014 and will rise by a further 21.7% in 2015 and another
11.6% in 2016. As of this year, Russian military expenditures have¬†increased by a massive 92.3% since 2010.
By the end of the Soviet Union, the military was a sad and antiquated¬†shell of the forces that shadowed the world in Cold War brinkmanship.
As Putin‚??s military machine grows, he wants to make sure it is as¬†modern and efficient as any in the world.¬† He also needs to make it as
obscure and unreadable to U.S. monitoring, collection and analysis.
Using information gathered by Edward Snowden, the new Russian military¬†will improve its own intelligence expertise and develop¬†counter-measures to neutralize those of the United States and his¬†other perceived challengers.
Snowden did not create Putin‚??s audacity nor did he embolden the¬†Russian president‚??s resolve.¬† Nonetheless, the intelligence Edward¬†Snowden gave Vladimir Putin has and will enhance Russia‚??s ability to¬†create a more powerful and confident adversary for the West.¬† With the¬†top secret information he now holds, Putin hold the world hostage as¬†he recreates the Evil Empire.¬† That will be Edward Snowden‚??s true¬†legacy.
Charlie Speight is a retired NSA executive spending 35 years in¬†Operations.¬†Currently living in Lexington, South Carolina, Charlie is an¬†established political opinion writer and advisor
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