US, Russian Aircraft Came Within 10 Feet Over Black Sea

By Barbara Starr. A Russian fighter jet, flying at high speed, came within 10 feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea late last month, several U.S. officials told CNN Thursday.

The Russian jet flew alongside the U.S. plane at the same altitude, broke off, and then shadowed the plane before leaving the area in the May 30 incident, the officials said. The U.S. aircraft took no evasive measures, and no other details were immediately available. Military officials could not say whether a diplomatic protest had been filed.

The close call comes weeks after another incident between the U.S. and Russia over the skies of Europe, when a U.S. RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 Flanker in what authorities called an “unsafe and unprofessional manner.” (Read more from “US, Russian Aircraft Came Within 10 Feet Over Black Sea” HERE)

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Putin, Once Critical of Stalin, Now Embraces Soviet Dictator’s Tactics

By Carol J. Williams. Only six years ago, President Vladimir Putin visited the Polish port of Gdansk, birthplace of the Solidarity movement that threw off Soviet domination, and reassured his Eastern European neighbors that Russia had only friendly intentions.

Putin spoke harshly that day of the notorious World War II-era pact that former Soviet leader Josef Stalin had signed with Adolf Hitler — an agreement that cleared the way for the Nazi occupation of Poland and Soviet domination of the Baltics — calling it a “collusion to solve one’s problems at others’ expense.”

But Putin’s view of history appears to have undergone a startling transformation. Last month, the Russian leader praised the 1939 nonaggression accord with Hitler as a clever maneuver that forestalled war with Germany. Stalin’s 29-year reign, generally seen by Russians in recent years as a dark and bloody chapter in the nation’s history, has lately been applauded by Putin and his supporters as the foundation on which the great Soviet superpower was built.

Across a resurgent Russia, Stalin lives again, at least in the minds and hearts of Russian nationalists who see Putin as heir to the former dictator’s model of iron-fisted rule. Recent tributes celebrate Stalin’s military command acumen and geopolitical prowess. His ruthless repression of enemies, real and imagined, has been brushed aside by today’s Kremlin leader as the cost to be paid for defeating the Nazis.

As Putin has sought to recover territory lost in the 1991 Soviet breakup, his Stalinesque claim to a right to a “sphere of influence” has allowed him to legitimize the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and declare an obligation to defend Russians and Russian speakers beyond his nation’s borders. (Read more from this story HERE)

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