Tensions continue to escalate between the US and Russia. As a reminder, Russia conducted several close encounter fly-bys when first a Russian Su-24 "buzzed" the US missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, and just days later flew within 50 feet of a US recon plane also flying over the Baltic Sea. The U.S. quickly responded and complained vocally to Russia, followed quickly by the first deployment of US F-22 stealth fighter to Romania, in close proximity to both the Black Sea and 400 km from the Russian military stronghold of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.
It now appears there was a third incident involving an extremely close encounter. According to the Free Beacon, a Russian MiG-31 jet flew within 50 feet of a U.S. surveillance aircraft in Northeast Asia last week, in what was dubbed "Moscow’s latest aerial saber-rattling" against American ships and planes by US defense officials.
“On April 21, a U.S. Navy P-8 Maritime Patrol reconnaissance aircraft flying a routine mission in international airspace was intercepted by a MiG-31 Russian jet in the vicinity of the Kamchatka Peninsula,” Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the Pacific Command, told the Washington Free Beacon. While Benham added that the intercept was “characterized as safe and professional" there was more to the story as another defense official familiar with the MiG-31 intercept said the jet flew within 50 feet of the P-8, a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
The WFB adds that the incident took place near the Russian city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a port located on the southeastern end of the peninsula, which explains why Russia may not have been particularly enthused with a US spy plane flying virtually on top of its territory.
Kamchatka is Russia’s main military hub in the Pacific and the focus of a buildup of Russian military forces that Moscow has said is intended to match the U.S. military rebalance to Asia. Several military bases are located there, along with a major naval base. The peninsula is also the main impact range for Russian missile flight tests launched from the central part of the country.
Worse, the P-8 flight appears to have been part of an effort to spy on Russia’s deployment of a new missile submarine at Petropavlovsk, and since clearly the US was fully aware that Russia would respond unfavorably to this encroachment one wonders if the US wasn't merely acting to provoke its Russian counterparts into something more than merely a "safe and professional" response.
In other words, the US was deploying spy planes in the immediate vicinity if not over Russian territory and was surprised when Russian engaged with an appropriate response. One wonders just how the US would react if Russian spyplanes were flying in the vicinity of Norfolk or San Diego.
Meanwhile the farce continued: on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that the recent incidents are an indicator of “tension that has built up in Europe especially over the last couple of years since events in Crimea and Ukraine.” Incident such as US spyplanes flying over critical Russian bases and being surprised by the reaction.
US officials are complaining of another "unprofessional" flyby by a Russian jet, this time near the Kamchatka peninsula.
"On April 21, a US Navy P-8 Maritime Patrol reconnaissance aircraft flying a routine mission in international airspace was intercepted by a MiG-31 Russian jet in the vicinity of the Kamchatka Peninsula," US Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. Dave Bentham told the Washington Free Beacon.
"This clearly represents another clear and present danger to US national security," he declared. "[The] nation needs more ballistic missile and fast attack nuclear submarines, and fast."
Confirmed: Nuclear Power Plant Infected With MULTIPLE Viruses... But Don't Worry Because There APPEARS To Be No Danger
Earlier this week it was reported that a computer virus had been used to infect a German nuclear power plant. Following revelations that ISIS operatives targeted a nuclear plant in Belgium around the time of a coordinated suicide bomber attack that killed 31 people, Europe was on alert.
But that apparently wasn’t enough, as Reuters now confirms that it was, in fact, multiple viruses that compromised the German systems. But as Zero Hedge notes, Reuters was quick to point out that there “appeared” to be no danger to the public:
Don’t worry, Reuters is quick to calm a concerned public, “they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility’s operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station’s operator said on Tuesday.” The Gundremmingen plant in question is located about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Munich, is run by the German utility RWE.
The viruses, which include “W32.Ramnit” and “Conficker”, were discovered at Gundremmingen’s B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualization software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.
First discovered in 2010, it is distributed through data sticks, among other methods, and is intended to give an attacker remote control over a system when it is connected to the Internet.
The attack on the German power plant, had it not been discovered, may have been such that an attacker could have taken control of the systems that move highly radiated nuclear fuel rods. What we know from the Japanese Fukushima disaster is that had said systems been taken over, they could have left an entire region of Germany unlivable and thousands of people dead or poisoned with radiation.
More and more frequently we are seeing critical infrastructure systems compromised by hackers, terrorists or state-sponsored operatives. And it’s not just restricted to Europe.
But if you thought five years was enough time for U.S. cyber security experts to secure vulnerable nodes of the grid, you may be surprised to learn that the head of the National Security Agency this year said that a major attack is not only a high probability event, but almost certain. Admiral Michael Rogers noted that such a disaster was “a matter of when, not if.”
Coupled with the real possibility that Weapons of Mass Destruction that may include chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear have been smuggled into the United States, preparing contingency plans would be in order.