Just a week after the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva, Moscow on Tuesday, June 22, provided details of Russia’s largest Pacific sea and air maneuver in decades. US air and sea units were rapidly scrambled in response.
The Russian maneuver, opposite US shores, was described by the Russian Defense Ministry as “practicing the tasks of destroying an aircraft carrier strike group of a mock enemy.” Admir Viktor Kravchenko said that the Russian navy had not conducted a maneuver on this scale since 1991.
Taking part were 20 warships, including submarines and logistic support vessels and a similar number of fighters and bombers. A simulated cruise missile attack was carried by one of the Russian naval strike groups operating 480km from a second in the role of the enemy.
Taking part too were 4 long-range Tu-142M2 Bear-F mod submarine fighters from the Yelizovo Air Base on the Kamchatka peninsula, escorted by MiG 31BMFoxhound interceptors. The Bears arrived covered in snow and were refueled in the air near the coast of Hawaii.
The US Navy responded by scrambling the USS Vinson carrier and the USS Dewey destroyer into the waters off Hawaii for close surveillance of the Russian maneuver. Also deployed were were F-22 fighters. Marines, counter-submarine units and the Coast Guard. The air and naval base at Pearl Harbor was placed on alert.
Both during the Russian war game and when it ended, US Air Force bombers and F-22 fighters were lofted opposite the Russian planes whenever they came anywhere near the American coast. Incidents were barely avoided twice on June 14 and June 18.
DEBKAfile’s sources conclude that Moscow decided to waste no time in dashing any illusions that the first presidential face to face between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin on June 16 had contributed to easing the tensions between the two powers.