If you looked up ‘stunting’ in the dictionary right now, you would see a picture of Vladimir Putin. Because that’s what he’s doing to the U.S.
Immediately upon entering the conflict in Syria, he had Russian bombers attack U.S.-backed rebels. That issued a stern rebuke from the U.S. Secretary of Defense and … nothing more.
Emboldened, he now has Russian fighter jets tailing U.S. Predator drones in the region.
“The fuck you gonna do about it?” asks Putin, in Russian, most likely. According to Fox News, the encounters have happened three times. Officials thought the first was accidental. Now, it appears it’s just flexing.
U.S. officials tell Fox News the drone encounters took place over ISIS-controlled Syria, including its de facto headquarters in Raqqa, as well as along the Turkish-Syrian border near Korbani. Another occurred in the northwest, near the highly contested city of Aleppo.
“The first time it happened, we thought the Russians got lucky. Then it happened two more times,” said one official.
The Russians have not attempted to shoot down any of the U.S. drones, but instead have flown “intercept tracks,” a doctrinal term meaning the Russians flew close enough to make their presence felt, according to one official.
In at least one instance, the U.S. drones have needed to change their routes to avoid the Russian planes.
My guess regarding this behavior is that Putin is certain Obama — soon to leave office — will do nothing to escalate tensions with Russia, even backing down to keep the peace. Thus, when a new president steps in, Russia will be in a much, much stronger position.
“Syria has been our turf for a year now,” he’ll tell whoever comes into office.
Dick flexin’ indeed.