The world's busy shitting its pants over an impending pandemic, oil production slap-fights and the arse dropping out of the stock market right into the lap of a recession that's just a-waiting in the wings. So, Russia, being Russia, does what Russia does best: fucks with people.
Earlier today, I received an emailed statement from your pals and mine at NORAD:
NORAD intercepts Russian aircraft entering Air Defense Identification Zone
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22s, CF-18s, supported by KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on Monday, March 9th.
The Russian aircraft entered the ADIZ north of Alaska and remained within it for approximately 4 hours. NORAD fighter aircraft escorted the TU-142s for the duration of their time in the ADIZ. The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace over the Beaufort Sea, and came as close as 50 nautical miles to the Alaskan coast. The Russian aircraft did not enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace.
If you're like me, or NORAD, you probably don't dig on unexpected company. So that pair of TU-142s can go ahead and jog on.
It's pretty common for Russia to mess with the warships of other countries in international waters, send submarines to scope out undersea communication cables and buzz NATO-aligned nations. They're jerks like that. However, given the freshly rehashed bickering over sovereignty in the Arctic, thanks to global warming's opening up of once frozen shipping lanes and potential oil windfalls, having a pair of their aircraft bop by to say hi feels a little bit pushier than usual. That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it become the norm.