Russia and the Asia-Pacific

Pacific Air Forces boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle said Russia has shown no signs of scaling back its increased military presence in Asia-Pacific, including exercising strategic forces and conducting wider intelligence gathering activities. During a phone interview with reporters on Oct. 9, Carlisle, who will soon takes over command at Air Combat Command, said Russia’s military forces remain “very much active in the Asia-Pacific,” and are part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to establish his country as a power in the Pacific. Carlisle said US fighter aircraft have monitored long-range Tu-95 bombers flying sorties off Guam, Hawaii, and as close as 45 miles off San Francisco in the past year. These flights often circumvent Japan, and intercepts by the Japanese have increased “exponentially,” he noted. The Russians also recently completed large combined arms exercises and missile tests. “I get nervous with Russia’s intentions,” he said, adding Russia’s behavior is “very concerning” to US allies in Asia and other countries that are observing these activities. “There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind in the Asia-Pacific that Russia is trying to reassert itself as a key player in the region,” Carlisle said.