GOP lawmaker: Russian jets' US fly-by shows Cold War ‘is back on’

GOP lawmaker: Russian jets' US fly-by shows Cold War ‘is back on’

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) says the two Russian nuclear bombers flying within miles of the California coast earlier this month was a clear “act of aggression” by Moscow and marks a return to Cold War mentality.

“If you ever have any doubt whether the Cold War is back on, I mean these are the kind of maneuvers that show that it is,” Kinzinger, a former Air Force pilot, said in an interview Wednesday on CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“There has been a reestablishment, probably not to the intensity it was in the '80s, but a reestablishment of, in essence, kind of Cold War principles,” unlike decades ago when “it was all a show of force from both sides,” he added.

ADVERTISEMENT
A pair of Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers flew into U.S. airspace during a July Fourth aerial event, the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory holiday note to President Obama.

Defense officials told CNN that two U.S. F-15 jets intercepted the foreign aircraft but not before the Russian pilots transmitted messages on an emergency frequency.

"Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your Fourth of July Independence Day," the messages said.

Kinzinger said “we're seeing this literally on a weekly basis from the Russians, whether it's the U.S. mainland, whether it's parts of Europe or anywhere else.”

“This isn't anything new by the Russians, but the stepped-up nature goes to prove that Vladimir Putin — sometimes the smallest kid in class is the biggest bully,” he added. “That's who he is.”

Kinzinger agreed with recent comments by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Obama’s pick to be the next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, that Russia is the largest existential threat facing the U.S.

“Terrorism is a huge threat,” he said. “But the problem with Russia is it could take one wrong move.”

He said Putin “understands that the Russian economy is about one-eighth of what the American economy is, their military is totally incapable” compared to the U.S. but “what he’ s doing is testing ours and testing the West’s will.”

“That's why it's important for us to stand up now and make it very clear we're not going to be bullied,” according to Kinzinger.