According to Associated Press reports this week, Russian aircraft have been increasingly prevalent along the Pacific Coast over the past several days. The incident represents the first time since the Cold War ended that forces from the nation have engaged in patrolling missions this close to American soil.

Additionally, a U.S. fighter jet also reportedly spotted a Russian bomber over Guam.

It is obvious to American military officials that the activity is linked to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle recently addressed the situation, indicating Russia is likely not only showing off its long-range aircraft capabilities but engaging in an intelligence-gathering operation.

Reports indicate the mission – along with incursions into Dutch airspace last week – is designed to grab the attention of media and, by extension, the public. Not only did the aircraft fly a path ensuring they would be picked up by every available radar; the planes being used were reportedly the noisiest intercontinental aircraft available.

The report of this incursion comes just days after hundreds of flights were delayed at Los Angeles’ LAX airport last week due to what an initial investigation blamed on a high-altitude flyover by a U2 spy plane. With the plane traveling at an altitude of 60,000 feet, air traffic controllers on the ground were reportedly unable to determine whether the aircraft posed a danger for commercial planes and either cancelled or diverted about 200 flights.

While multiple sources reported the presence of a U2 as the cause of the delays at LAX and a number of other airports across the Southwest, the Air Force provided a different – and more nebulous – explanation.

On one hand, military sources indicated an aircraft was in the air that day on an approved training mission. In its statement regarding the cause of the grounded commercial flights, however, the Air Force denied the U2 played any role and insisted it addressed an unspecified issue at the root of the airport disruption.

In light of the subsequent presence of Russian aircraft in the same general vicinity, last week’s confusing situation is only sparking further speculation among those wary of Vladimir Putin’s military aspirations.

As Western Journalism reported, Russia has already responded to U.S. sanctions of Putin’s allies. The threat of military action is a frightening possibility more and more Americans believe cannot be ruled out.

Photo Credit: Alex Beltyukov (Creative Commons)